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Speech

While we are relatively safe in the Cayman Islands, many of our friends and families live in areas across the globe that are experiencing surges in COVID-19.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 4th January 2021, 2:54pm

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”
 That is a line from the Christmas classic A Christmas Carol written 177 years ago by Charles Dickens, but the words still ring true today and they hold a special place in my own heart.
 This is one of my favourite times of year and the feelings of, love, kindness and generosity that come with this special season are those that I truly wish we could keep all year.

This will not be a usual Christmastime but despite the challenges of COVID-19, we have managed to fare rather well and are able to do what many across the world unfortunately can’t do this time of year, celebrate our traditions with our families and friends and freely attend places of worship.

We knew coming into this year that a new virus had been identified in Asia and had the potential to find its way here. What we did not know was that it was going to be a year like we had never experienced before.

Shortly after ushering in 2020, we experienced a major earthquake that shook us to our core and reminded us of how unexpected events have the potential to change our lives.

While we were shaken, our resilience saw us through. Little did we know how much resilience we were going to need to face even more challenges in the coming months as COVID-19 moved throughout Asia to Europe and the Americas, and yes, eventually to our Islands - and our lives have certainly been changed.

Things have not been easy for many of us over these past months because of the impact of COVID at home and across the world. As is the case everywhere else, those working in Tourism and Hospitality – including businesses that focus on those sectors – have been especially hard hit.

The decisions Government took to protect life and health also regrettably impacted the livelihoods and businesses of Caymanians and residents like never before. But it was because we took those hard but important decisions that today we are able to live our lives with relative ease and to celebrate Christmas as we traditionally have done.

I cannot find words sufficient to express my gratitude and appreciation at the way the people of this country rallied and sacrificed personally to help eradicate the virus for the greater good. It was proof positive that those of us who live, work and make up our community are truly like members of a family.

I also cannot adequately express how eternally grateful I am for the many people who sent, and still send, well wishes and prayers to myself and all in Government and beyond who fight to keep us safe. I also want to thank the many charities and individuals who have been working for months and continue to work to help people in need.

I will never forget those days during the toughest part of the lock down when none of us knew how things would turn out – but we kept the faith. My faith in my people and your faith in me and in your Government.

I believe it is our ability to pull together in times of crisis that has helped us survive all that this year has thrown our way.

While we are relatively safe in the Cayman Islands, many of our friends and families live in areas across the globe that are experiencing surges in COVID-19.

We collectively pray for their safety and welcome the Christmas gift of vaccines that have the potential of bringing this virus under control across the globe.

We have many reasons to celebrate and recall our blessings during this Christmas season. As a country and as a Government we have managed our resources very well over the past seven years as we not only built up our reserves preparing for rainy days but we also repaid more than half of the debt that we found when we took office in 2013.

We have also funded all of the current Government projects from cash without taking on any new borrowing or increasing taxes on families and businesses.

It is because of these preparations that we have been able to assist thousands of individuals and businesses impacted by the economic downturn while keeping our borders secured and controlling access to avoid the community spread and resurgence of the virus that many of our neighbours are experiencing.

This may have been a difficult year for us as a whole, but we are truly very blessed.

In the book of Luke we read the words of Elizabeth to Mary when she was told that Mary was pregnant with the Christ child. “Blessed among women are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
 It is that Christ child that we celebrate at this wonderful time of year.
 And it is his admonition to us that it is more blessed to give than to receive that we take to heart at Christmastime. Indeed, the more we give of ourselves the more blessed we are.
 I will realise my blessings when I spend my Christmastime with my wife, sons, sisters, other family and friends. I hope that you too have an opportunity to pause and reflect and take time to share the holiday with family, friends and neighbours.
 I sincerely hope that each of you has a joyous Christmas and the feelings of goodwill and generosity we are feeling at this special time are truly kept in your hearts all year long.
 On behalf of Government, my family and myself, I wish each of you a wonderful Christmas filled with love, laughter and blessings.