I bring you warm Caymanian greetings on this special Christmas Day.
Whenever I think of Christmas these words from our National Song ‘Beloved Isle Cayman’ often come to me:
“When tired of all excitement,
And glam’rous worldly care,
How sweet thy shores to reach,
And find a welcome there,
And when comes on the season,
Of peace, goodwill to man,
‘Tis then I love thee best of all,
Beloved Isle, Cayman!”
We are fortunate, all of us, to live, work and to raise our families in these three verdant isles. In a very troubled world, our beloved Cayman Islands remain a paradise, despite the challenges we face.
Challenges are nothing new to Caymanians. The iron men and women who made these islands by their toil and devotion faced much greater challenges. Yet they persevered and with faith in God and each other built and shaped these islands into homes and communities. Communities that shared what they had, looking after each other and working to make these Islands a better place. Each generation has played their part to progress our Islands and provide greater opportunities for their children and for the generations to come.
The past year has reminded us of this as we reflected on and honoured the important events and people who, some sixty years ago, set us on a political and economic path that has brought us continued stability, financial independence, and a standard of living that is the envy of much of the world. I pray that we never forget those nation builders or take for granted the foundation they built.
Like them, we should never forget from whence we have come, but seek always to forge an even better Cayman Islands. That has been my singular motivation over my nineteen years in public office - to serve my people and to move our beloved country forward.
I believe most would agree, our Islands are in a far better place today than we were when I first took office as Premier in 2013. Over the remaining seventeen months of this term, I intend, along with my Government, to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and work even harder to ensure that a progressive Cayman provides opportunities for all Caymanians, regardless of social standing, now and into the future.
Your unity Government, as we have shown in our recent budget, will complete the work we promised to do and have started, including key infrastructure projects.
We remain steadfast in our ambition to improve the lives of our people, especially the most vulnerable. We will continue the fight to protect the opportunities for employment and prosperity of all Caymanians and residents for years to come.
We will continue to ensure that the opportunities created are available for Caymanians from all walks of life - not just the privileged.
Yes, this past year has been one of many blessings and challenges. And I recognise that some in our community have not always agreed with the Government's plans to move the country forward. But that is proof that democracy is alive and well in our Islands. And I would not have it any other way.
Because we live in a democratic society we have many freedoms, one of which is the right to worship and with that the ability to celebrate Christmas and the season of joy.
It is at Christmas that we recognize the greatest gift of all, the birth of the Christ child. We recall and celebrate that God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to be born amongst us, bringing great joy and love to the world.
Christmas in these Islands is a religious time but it is also a time for family and for the carrying on of traditions. It is family and traditions that help bind us together as a people.
I wish each of you happiness as you take time to be with families and friends, gathering to reminisce and catch up, eating Christmas beef or ham but in true Caymanian tradition always sharing our food, our stories and creating new memories with loved ones.
I know that I will cherish this day as I slow down a bit and spend time with family and friends.
Sadly, there are some families, my own included, that will have an empty chair at the table this Christmas. But we cherish the time we had with the loved ones who have gone on and while we miss them, we remember them and Christmases past with fondness and affection.
As we celebrate this Christmas, let us also pause and reflect on the many blessings we have received over the past year. And let us remember Christ’s admonition to us – that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
On this Christmas Day, we have much for which to be thankful and we are blessed when we give, whether it is a shiny present, fellowship, a hug or a simple smile.
On behalf of myself and my Government, I wish each of you a wonderful Christmas filled with love, laughter and many blessings.