President: Vaccines hold the key to normality

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes used her Christmas message to lend support for the country’s efforts at mass vaccination against covid19, as a measure to return the country to normaliyy.

She said comfort was “part and parcel of the Christmas chronicle” and now awaits citizens variously visited by adversity.

“Workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic may take comfort from the knowledge that vaccines, which are readily available, hold the key to a certain and steady return to normalcy.”

The bereaved can be comforted in enduring memories of the love and laughter of past Christmases, she said.

“People who suffer ill health, covid19-related or otherwise, can draw comfort from the care and compassion of our healthcare workers who, at costs physical and emotional, continue to put themselves on the frontlines of our pandemic response.”

Those unable to afford a traditional feast or gifts can be comforted by people showing Christmas goodwill in providing hampers and meals for the needy and toys and treats for children, she said.

While generosity, bonhomie and good cheer were hallmarks of Christmas, it may take effort to find one’s wellspring of joy, which she suggested included vaccines.

But joy, she said, “can and will be found in aspects of life that we perhaps take for granted.

“In Trinidad and Tobago, over 650,000 persons have received free vaccinations which greatly reduce the likelihood of serious illness, hospitalisation and death from covid19, surely a godsend.”

She also saw joy in the holding of the THA elections, the return of nationals to Trinidad and Tobago who had been stuck abroad, and communal religious worship.

Weekes urged citizens to recognise joy in their lives and to spread it to others.

“Usually when people think of joy, they think of merriment and pleasure, but mere happiness can be fleeting and easily countered by external factors. Joy is far more enduring and persists even in times of great difficulty.

“An attitude of gratitude, as they say, is the surest pathway to finding true joy. Get into the habit of counting your blessings.”

She said every Trinidadian and Tobagonian knows the phrase, “spreading joy,” as a colloquial way of saying joy multiplies when it is extended to others.

“When we find joy, let us be sure to share it generously and indiscriminately. It costs nothing but is an invaluable gift.

“Give of your time and attention, lend a helping hand, pay an unexpected compliment. Practise being alert, compassionate and supportive of others.”

Weekes said one can spread joy by offering hospitality or visiting elderly relatives and residents of senior homes or exchanging greetings from a safe distance.

“Call a family member or friend with whom you have not spoken for some time, especially if there is some tension between you. After all, Christmas is a season of restored relationships.

“Social media can be an ideal vehicle for spreading joy. In these 12 days of Christmas and into the New Year, as you post, saturate your words with wisdom and kindness, so that they refresh, empower and encourage your followers.”

She said celebrating Christmas this year does not mean one was unaware, tone-deaf or in denial of the pain, suffering and abuse experienced by many citizens.

“The Christmas narrative itself does not ignore or gloss over this reality. The very story of Christmas is one in which the hope of salvation and eternal life was injected into a world that was broken, hurting and hopeless.”

Weekes noted that Christmas was a season of giving, so people should be alert for opportunities to comfort others, including those under psychological pressure.

“This can be one of the worst times of year for people struggling with their mental health, partly because of the pressure to be merry and bright despite their psychological and emotional state.

“Recognise and acknowledge their feelings, show empathy and give them the space needed, even while remaining available to lend an ear, provide words of inspiration and spend quality time together.”

Weekes offered the nation an old Celtic blessing.

“I pray that happiness be at your door. May it knock early, stay late and leave the gift of peace, love, joy and good health behind.”

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