Look after the little things in life. Because one day the time will come when you realise they are the big things.
And there is no better time to find this out than at this time of the year. In the days leading up to Christmas, it is easy to be consumed by the enormity of it all; pushing ourselves through heartache and stress, and losing the familial feel of togetherness Christmas once had, when there was nothing else or nowhere else to go to.
There is something wonderfully charming about the notion of the (often forced ) sitting in and enjoying the picture postcard family life, but the sad reality too is that this ideal is not always possible for everyone. Modern stresses and strains mean that many people will spend Christmas alone; many living in hotel rooms; in direct provision centres; in doorways, or in family situations that are not convivial to the creation of great memories.
However, despite all of this, Christmas is the instant default setting our mind goes to as we recall the years gone by. We never remember the dull Octobers and the wet Novembers. Because of this, it is imperative we do as much as we can to make any memories pleasant to maintain.
The arrival of Christmas has taken us by surprise — this year just seemed to fly by, and now with a short winter, soon comes the hope and light of spring.
From tomorrow morning, you will feel the stretch in the day; it’s minuscule at the moment, but psychologically, we are reminded that with every extra 60 seconds of daylight, the spring and the summer beyond are coming nearer. The possibility of freckles and the sun on our faces lifts us.
Enjoy the lights of Christmas, let them guide you at this darkest time of the year. Enjoy the one day that remains to remind us that we are here for something other than ourselves.
Let the fire in your hearth be welcoming over the next week or so, but let the fire in your heart be more welcoming, warm, and full of empathy for the other 51 weeks. The break that most of you may have gives us an opportunity to discover that a good conscience means you can live Christmas all year round.
And because of that, there is a sort of positivity about, even though we cannot forget that at night, dozens still sleep in the streets and people still try to exist as families in hotel rooms and direct provision facilties. We hope that this will reduce in years to come before whole childhoods are consumed by it.
We are fortunate to live in a truly wonderful part of the world with much to be thankful for, and much to come for the generations ahead. But that security can only be secured if we arm the next generation with love and common sense and calmness and a strong sense of place. This year, we have experienced what happens when we shed the welcome and openness that this nation once had for those who are fleeing persecution, whose entire lives have been shredded by despotic regimes and chaotic societies.
And that’s where we all come in. Next year, let us not play any part in this shunning of the other, of lying to ourselves using faux concern to deny people a chance for a better life.
Our gift to each other this Christmas should be the gift of time. The hardest thing in the world now is to tell yourself to slow down, to sit down, to chat, to share, to play a game with a child, to chat with someone for whom a few words means a lot. Switch off the outside world this Christmas. Put your smartphone on the mantelpiece or away in a box. The outside world will still be there when you switch it back on the next day. Above all, do not make people feel that you are just paying lip service to their desire for company. Do not give any hint that you want to be anywhere else but there. For a few days, build up a new habit of making those around feel like the most important people in your live. Because they are.
Get down on the floor and share the games; take it easy on the booze; the world that’s boozy and hazy for you might be hellish for someone else who just wants your sober company. Don’t let your children have Christmas memories that revolve around drunkenness and rows.
Adults have a responsibility to create memories for those whose lives will stretch away decades and decades into the future. As keepers of the flame of memory, do what you can to lift someone’s heart, to restore the honest decency of friendship and love. Next week brings a new year, a new decade, perhaps a new way of living our lives.
On behalf of the management and staff of the Galway Advertiser and its sister newspapers around the country, I would like to wish you a very happy and fulfilling Christmas. This is the Advertiser’s 49th Christmas in Galway and next year we celebrate the milestone of 50 years. We thank you for your loyalty and for allowing us the opportunity to inform, entertain, and, no doubt, occasionally infuriate you over the past year. We thank those who support us through advertising, which allows us to sustain this wonderfully Galway medium; We thank you too for your comments, both for and against our commitment to allow as many diverse voices as possible to be heard through our pages and on our increasingly popular Facebook and Twitter facilities. Thank you for letting us into your homes and into your minds.
Thar cheann an Galway Advertiser gach dea ghuí i gcomhair na Nollag agus na hathbhliana.