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Christmas a time when the best and worst of behaviour is seen

Opinion Piece

The most anticipated holiday of the year, Christmas, is with us again bringing its annual contrasts and unfortunate side-effects but as always transcending the doubters and naysayers to create an atmosphere not seen at any other time in the whole year.

True, there is not a lot of peace on earth let alone goodwill to men and women in the world scene. The dreadful tragedy of Paris is just behind us and ISIS continues its bloody rampage through its self-proclaimed caliphate while the ghastly Syrian tragedy seems endless.

Here in New Zealand Christmas too often brings with it a downside in the surge of domestic violence and sometimes alcohol-fuelled disorder. Many people will struggle to find the money to have an enjoyable holiday.

All too often the holiday season sees a spike in the number of road deaths despite annual pleas from police for people to take extra care. Interestingly the New Zealand Transport Authority has been proactive, publishing a list of holiday routes with the times and dates that traffic will be heaviest.

Some question the relevance of Christmas in an increasingly secular society which includes New Zealand. The message of the birth of Christ seems to have long been lost in the shopping and spending frenzy that marks the season.

Despite all that, Christmas remains a time of the year when the very best of human behaviour is seen. The kindness of strangers to appeals like the Herald’s Christmas tree is only one of so many examples of people willing to give selflessly to others.

Even small things like an increased civility between people is a welcome hallmark of Christmas — the phrase “it’s Christmas” alone can defuse many potential conflicts.

Here in Gisborne we look like being blessed with fine weather for the four-day holiday although the forecasts indicate it will not be particularly hot.

So the message of Christmas is probably the same as it has always been. Put aside the negativity and enjoy time with family and loved ones. A Merry Christmas to one and all.