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One day to go before the world celebrates Christmas Day. For Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ represents the coming of the one who was promised, the one who is here to save the world. If there was a time when the world needed a saviour, many would argue it was is 2020.

While Christmas is a Christian celebration, it has been embraced by virtually all in Trinidad and Tobago, as the message of peace on earth and goodwill to all resonates with all people of faith.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great grief to millions of lives globally. In T&T, at least 125 families will spend the season without someone who has died because of the virus. It is going to be a sad Christmas for those families and friends of those taken away by this virus. We extend our condolences to those so affected.

This year is also one in which livelihoods have been devastated, with many of our citizens and guests, in the form of migrants, having lost their jobs or had their earnings significantly reduced due to the pandemic.

As we complete our last-minute shopping and prepare for the big day, let us be clear on a few things.

First, we all feel the need to spend time with friends and family. We have had so many restrictions over this year, it is fully understandable that we would want to finally enjoy ourselves with each other. Unfortunately, this year it is not possible to celebrate in the same way.

We saw how easily the virus spread dramatically following the recent general election and we moved from cluster to community spread. We cannot afford another spike. We have lost more than 100 of our citizens during the period of community spread and one life lost is too many.

Secondly, we must remember those less fortunate, the people who have lost their jobs or income during this very trying year. While we too must be acutely aware of the challenging year ahead, whatever help we can give to those less fortunate, we have a responsibility to so do.

We also urge one another to remember why we are cleaning and cooking and exchanging gifts. It is because Christianity believes that we are welcoming the saviour, the one who preached the message of love and forgiveness. Let this period renew in us as a nation, love for each other, respect for one another, respect for our women and a greater sense of esprit d corps.

COVID-19 will continue to be with us into 2021 and this means for T&T another year of challenge. But just as the Christ-child brought hope to a world desperately in need of redemption, we too must find solace and strength in the knowledge that if we join together with grit, determination, innovation and foresight, we will succeed and 2021 promises to be a better Christmas than we can experience this year.