Reflections on the Christmas story, gratitude and generosity

December 25, 2017, 2:56 pm

John Gormley John Gormley

John Gormley is a broadcaster, lawyer, author and former Progressive Conservative MP whose radio talk show is heard weekdays from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm on 650 CKOM Saskatoon and 980 CJME Regina.


As Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall marks his final Christmas season in office, this severely normal and perennially popular politician continues to defy how modern politicians are “supposed” to behave.

At a time when many in public life opt for the most secular of Christmas thoughts, for the past eleven Decembers, the Premier hasn’t shied away from the traditional and religious origins of Christmas. In fact, he’s embraced them.

This year, Wall’s message is that Christmas is “the ultimate story of hope because that’s what God gave to us all. He sent His son Jesus. As a tiny baby, He left perfection to endure oppression. Because He loved us.

“And chose to bring us that hope—that’s what I believe this Christmas. It’s the time of year to enjoy the wealth of simply being together with those we love, and the fulfillment of helping someone in need.

“And it’s the time of year when we are all reminded of the need to spread that hope and love God sent to us. To share it with those around us, especially those in need.”

Premier Wall understands that freedom of religion is not freedom from religion.

And, regardless of where we come from, Saskatchewan is not defined by muzzling a faith or a lack of faith. As a people, we are better when we tolerate, accept and understand the shared values that bring us closer to together.

While giving thanks for the bounty of the harvest and the gifts of life is often reserved for Thanksgiving, there’s nothing like Christmas to remind each of us how truly fortunate we are, how blessed and how eternally thankful we should be for family, love, health and a quality of life second to none in the world.

For me, every year Christmas reinforces the message of gratitude and the reminder of our duty of charity and generosity.

The enduring goodwill—from local fundraising projects to the millions of dollars from philanthropists who give back—is the story of modern Christmas. We are enriched and ennobled by those who selflessly give back and improve the lives of others.

As we turn the page on another year, it’s also human nature to look ahead and make predictions—from sports champions to political winners, famous celebrities we will lose and long-awaited forecasts that will come to pass in 2018.

For all our often-feeble attempts to foretell the future, the best advice for looking ahead came 2000 years ago from the Roman poet, Horace: “Don’t ask what ends the gods have; how better it is to endure whatever will be. Be wise, be truthful, scale back your long hopes to a short period, seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day.”

And, as Christmas is increasingly marked by the institutional and inoffensive “happy holidays” greeting, it seems that a good number of people are proudly unafraid to say “Merry Christmas”.

In the same Saskatchewan where the historic English, Cree, German and Ukrainian languages are now making way for more Tagalog and Urdu, Christmas remains as Canadian as the maple leaf.

And it’s the ultimate inclusive expression, capturing the Christian message of the birth of the Baby Jesus to the secular consumerism of Christmas. It endures as a message to treat one another kindly, helping the less fortunate and showing a common face of generosity founded on peace, goodwill and love. From our family to yours, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And to the province that’s home to the finest people I’ve had the honour of knowing—thank you for another great year.