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Premier's Christmas Message

The Hon. Premier McKeeva Bush.

A little seven year old boy once said: "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas - IF you stop opening presents and listen."

Did you feel what that child said? It's true.

Do you remember the best gift - the absolute best gift - that you ever received for Christmas? What made it stand out? Probably this: The love you feel for the person who gave it to you, and knowing that individual loves you just as much.

In other words, you did more than open the present. You listened, with your heart.

This is the spirit of Christmas. It's about friends and family; it's about hope; it's about love. So often we get caught in the trap of a commercialized Christmas. And before I get all the business owners mad at me, let me hasten to say that getting gifts is a wonderful thing!

But the best gift you can give is love - and that doesn't come from a wallet. It comes from your heart.

This Christmas, take this chance to tell your family how important they are to you. They will cherish it long after the Christmas beef and heavy cakes are gone. And you will cherish it too - those of us who have lost loved ones understand this bittersweet truth all too well.

Call your friends and wish them Merry Christmas. Tell your neighbour hello.

You know, it doesn't cost much to give the true gifts of Christmas - gifts like love, peace, joy, forgiveness, service. They don't cost much to give because they're priceless. Man just can't calculate their worth - and that's a good thing, isn't it?

So these gifts are free - beautifully free. They come to us through Christ, and through Christ working in us for the good of others.

I encourage you to give these precious gifts to your family, because charity really begins at home. Since you can give these gifts over and over - they'll never run out of stock - you can also give them to your friends and coworkers. You can give them to the cashiers, the lawyers, the taxi drivers, the floor managers, the doctors and nurses, the garbage collectors, the teachers.

And you won't have to gift wrap them. All you have to do is to present them with a willing heart.

As we look upon the world and look at our situation on our islands, we recognize as a Government we could not help everyone, and we have had to prioritize as best as we can in these circumstances. But at this particular time of the year we are reminded of our priorities: our people, our elderly and our students. We did not in these hard economic times cut our funds to our elderly and those who cannot help themselves. The veterans and seamen benefits have not been cut. Our students have received their scholarships. This year we have granted 142 new overseas scholarships and that brings us to a total of 877 overall that we are paying for this year.

From our nation building fund we granted 69 scholarships this year to our students. And that brings us to a total of 90 students overall. We have also granted 22 new tourism scholarships this year for a total of 49 overall students. We have also given hope to families this year by building 55 new homes for them.

This is what I call giving hope to our people in uncertain and hard economic times. Times are real hard, but we have hope that it will get better as we trust in God.

My friends, this is Christmas. Please keep the true meaning close to your heart. Remember the words of a 7-year old boy, and let them focus you on the birth of a baby named Jesus.

And let Jesus be in the room with you, your family and your friends this year, as you open your material gifts and also unwrap the timeless, sought-after gifts of joy, peace, love, hope and trust.

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas.

For further information contact: Susan Watler