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Mayor Mackin's Christmas Message

Mayor Mackin's Christmas Message

December 19, 2018

The week before Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest of the year, as we rush to get the Christmas present shopping finished and wrapped, the last minute cards posted (maybe even written), the big grocery shop done, meeting up with friends and family, getting our Santa’s Stops ready and even running out of ideas for the Elf on the Shelf (which for many parents seemed a great idea at the beginning of December..)

And yet in the midst of the preparations and wonderful chaos at this time of year, there is another side to Christmas but one which is easy to forget amidst the military operation-like countdown to Christmas Day.  For many people Christmas can be such a difficult time of the year.

For older people, those who are ill, alone, bereaved or those facing real poverty, Christmas can be a time of isolation and despair.  For families in crisis, it’s not about the decorations, the presents or what’s top of the Santa list this year, it’s about having a roof over their heads, a hot meal to eat and whether there can be a Santa list at all.

At the heart of Christmas is the original Christmas story, The Nativity, which is at the core of our Christian beliefs and faith across the globe.

Even for those who are of a different faith, or indeed have none at all, the symbolism of the greatest story ever told can, and should, shape the way we behave and treat one and other, especially at Christmas time, when compassion and kindness to the vulnerable and help and assistance to those in crisis is so very much needed. 

In today’s volatile and unpredictable world the unfaltering Christmas message of love and hope has never before been so important.

I am humbled by the everyday acts of kindness which I have witnessed in the run up to this Christmas. Our local charities and food banks have been working tirelessly to ensure that all local people and their children will be able to celebrate this Christmas and the donations from our local communities have been amazing with local retailers and grocery stores joining in.

Visitors to the city centre have been treated to carolling from local schools as they raise funds for much needed causes, all the while bringing cheer to those around them.

The Lisburn Chamber of Commerce recently organised their Annual Toy Appeal for Barnardos, helping to make sure all children wake up to at least one present on Christmas morning.

It is especially poignant to make mention of my own Mayoral Charity at this time of year, The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.  It does such wonderful work all year round but also at Christmas time, helping to make Christmas special for children, young people and their families, whether at home or spending it in hospital.

To everybody who has supported this amazing Charity so far I thank each and every one of you.

As well as meeting so many inspirational young people, as Mayor, I have also had the privilege of visiting many of our older residents in the run up to Christmas.  My Office has visited over 40 care and nursing homes and we have met so many people, including centenarians from across Lisburn and Castlereagh and I pray for their continued good health and happiness as we approach another new year.

This Christmas I would urge all of us to pay it forward, either in random acts of kindness or perhaps going that extra mile for people who you know are struggling.  Please look out for your neighbours and reach out to those who are sick or alone and together we can make Christmas a better time for everybody.

As Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and all that is good in 2019.

Happy Christmas everybody.