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And while we are still in the throes of a global pandemic, life in the Cayman Islands has pretty much returned to normal.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin

Published 1st December 2020, 9:37am

What a blessing it is to be with you this evening as we officially kick off Christmas season with the 55th year of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman’s annual lighting of the Christmas tree.

Frankly, I am glad to be here with you as we put paid to the year that has been 2020.

We knew that coming into this year we would face a new virus dubbed COVID-19. What we did not know as we rang in 2020 that it was going to be a year like we had never experienced before.

Shortly after ushering in 2020 we experienced one of the largest earthquakes when a 7.7 temblor shook us to our core.

We were shaken, but our resilience saw us through. Little did we know how much resilience we were going to need to face more impending challenges. Shortly on the heels of the earthquake we dealt with a massive fire at the George Town Landfill and then in March we found ourselves facing a pandemic the likes of which none of us have never experienced.

And while we are still in the throes of a global pandemic, life in the Cayman Islands has pretty much returned to normal. 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.

The response of Cayman and its people to the COVID-19 crisis has been a source of considerable pride and inspiration for me. The response of the community, both in terms of a willingness to follow the rules that Government moved so swiftly to put in place and in the way we have come together to look after each other is something to indeed be proud of.

I know that life has not been easy for many of us over these past few months, what with the tough decisions that Government had to make. Those decisions curtailed liberties and impacted the livelihoods of Caymanians and residents like never before. But it was because we took those hard decisions that today we are able to gather together once more to celebrate and officially usher in Christmas.

It is because we made those timely decisions to intervene and close things down that we saved lives and maintained public health while the testing and tracing arrangements have been crucial in containing community spread and providing public reassurance.

And while we have made major milestones in keeping the virus at bay in our community, we know that the virus is also what will keep many of our loved ones away during this Christmas season. While we are relatively safe in the Cayman Islands, many of our friends and family live in areas across the globe that are experiencing spikes and surges in COVID-19 and those who do come to our shores face time in quarantine before they are able to go about enjoying all the wonders of our beautiful Islands.

For some, the trip just is not practical.

But there is joy in knowing that no matter where our friends and family are, we can all share in the excitement of Christmas and give thanks for the reason of this season – Jesus Christ.

Luke reminds us of the advent of the Son of Man in the second chapter of that great gospel:

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register.

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ ”

I never grow tired of hearing or telling that story.

And to me it rings especially true this year because it reminds us of the resolve and resiliency of a young woman and man who were charged with bringing forth Jesus Christ.

Here in Cayman we have proven our resilience and resolve in the ability to cope with the trials and tribulations of this past year by working together, remembering that we are a special community made up of the people who God sent his own Son to save.

This is an enchanting time of year for both the young and the old, and it is even more precious this year because of what we have been through together.

I pray that the feelings of goodwill and charity that Christmas brings will spill over into 2021 and that the New Year ahead of us will be much kinder than the one we will usher out at the end of December.

I appreciate the opportunity to be with you tonight to officially kick of Cayman’s Christmas season. On behalf of Government, my family and myself, I wish each of you a very blessed Christmas season