My Christmas Message to the Nation

Thank God for life and his bountiful mercies. St. Maarten, let us use the opportunity we have at this fortunate moment, to dedicate our thoughts towards friends, family and others. We must realize that love and compassion are the enduring virtues we need to have in order to extract and embrace the happiness of life.
As a child (and I know many of you can relate to this), I embraced the long awaited feeling of the Christmas season. I can remember it like yesterday, that warm feeling of love and joy that could be felt with our family, friend, and acquaintance, I believe it is that sense of Christmas spirit every child felt and enjoyed. This spirit of love, unity, kindness, generosity and the best part of it all, was that it felt real. Those days I treasure deep in my heart and I still long to it see continue.
St. Maarten, as this year comes to an end, we need to re-invoke our true traditions. Let us start with this holiday season. Let us bring back the good old days…The days of collectively enjoying the singing of carols with unnoticed time-lapse…Moving from home to home spreading the love and arousing the spirit of the season. Let us continue to enjoy a wondrous feast created by the hands of family and friends in the traditional way, but not forgetting to give thanks for Life and his good will. Remember to pray for the wellbeing of our people and our leaders.
Through our actions of goodwill, we will soon realize and embrace even more blessings and hopefully it will be the motivating force for continued togetherness and kindness towards each other. I can testify of the above ( actions of good will to all from the heart) due to a true manifestation of infinite blessings in my life. So I encourage you to practice forgiveness and indulge in good deeds, beyond this season and you will be graced with immeasurable fortune. A positive heart is always forgiving and is always full of good intentions. If we all commit to having such a heart, we can influence a change of how St. Maarten is perceived, both locally and internationally.
So I encourage you this Christmas to celebrate in the good old St. Maarten’s way; not because I ask you to, but because of its deep spiritual meaning, connection and the sense of healing will generate.
We cannot forget that sadly, in all the celebration and merriment, there are homes with sad moments. There are people who are suffering hardships and misery. It is possible that we all know someone who is less fortunate than us, in some way or the other, so I encourage you to look deep inside your heart and find a place for at least one person, who you can bless with a good deed. Just make that person feel that there is still hope in whatever way you can.
We pause to give special thought to those who have lost their loved ones, acknowledging that the season may not be the same no matter how hard they try. May God grant them the serenity and comfort they need to overcome their grief knowing that time is a great healer.
We also cannot forget our students studying abroad and how anxious they must be in their minds to spend the holidays back home in sweet little St. Maarten. So don’t take it for granted, let them know how much we live and long to see them back home . take advantage of the varying forms of technology and the media to communicate your love. In the way you know best try to invoke that warm Christmas feeling mentioned above, even though they are far away.
The teaching of Christ is fundamental in our lives. Our youngest generation should grow up knowing the significance of this global tradition.
I feel the need to highlight and recognize the spiritual connection that is universally known, and which serves to link all mankind in mind body and spirit under God. That connection is known as prayers. Through fervent prayers and a forgiving heart, we can touch something that is basic and good in all of humanity…That basic thing is love and compassion. We need to have that virtue in order to evolve from undesirable consequences to desirable consequences, hence progressiveness as a nation. In your efforts to practice what I have encouraged, and by the grace of God, you will soon experience a special grace which will guide and direct you to do what’s right in your daily routines.
I am optimistic that my words will touch your hearts, and as a result all of us will share in experiencing feelings of compassion and forgiveness throughout this precious little Island.

A prayer for St. Maarten
St. Maarten be united! I invite the presence of the most high to take full control of this season as we acknowledge and celebrate its significance in our lives. We know there are many nations experiencing worst situations at the moment and we acknowledge your mercies and compassion. We give thanks and praise for your unconditional love and we exercise our faith that you will deliver our nation from all negative challenges. As we enjoy the festivity of the season, keep our precious Island safe from disasters and protect our people from all danger, seen and unseen. You said ask and it shall be given; so I hereby ask that you stimulate the virtues of kindness, love and a forgiving spirit in our lives. So that we can all contribute towards an effective positive change in this nation. Continue to guide me in the right direction of leadership, and bless our pantries and tables with feast-full meals and infinite finances. Bless each home with peace and love, as you continue to deliver us out of the challenges we face daily. This I ask as a leader of your people for this Christmas…. God Bless St. Maarten.

My entire Ministry hereby embrace you in the spirit of this season and wishes St. Maarten, St. Martin, a very Merry Christmas!!!
Mrs. Rita Bourne-Gumbs.
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.