2016 Christmas Message

It’s often said that birthdays, weddings and funerals are the only opportunity that families and friends get to come together to catch up and be in each other’s company. It seems somewhat strange then that each year all around the world on or around the 25th December we gather to be together with our loved ones for Christmas, to eat and drink, laugh and cry about the year that’s been and what’s to come, often forgetting the reason as to why we do.

In the midst of the Christmas rush, the shopping bonanza, end of school and work, the Christmas parties and get-togethers we are easily distracted from the main event, the humble birth of an infant in a stable in Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago. As our lives become more hectic may we never forget that the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason for this joyous season.

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate Christmas and the holiday period, whether it be by having a BBQ at Lake Forbes, catching up with mates under the verandahs in Lockhart, picking cherries in Young for the Christmas pav, riding the 5 o’clock wave at Wagga Wagga beach or stopping for a break on the Newell in West Wyalong, I pray that everyone in the Riverina and Central West drives to the conditions, takes plenty of breaks, protects themselves from the sun and heat and is water wise when playing in and around pools, rivers, creeks and dams.

While many of us will be with our family and friends these holidays we also think of those who are on their own and perhaps for whatever reason not able to experience the joy of Christmas.

We also think of and pay tribute to those to who serve our nation in the defence forces and are on deployment and to those rostered to work over Christmas and the holidays as police, fire and ambulance officers of our emergency services. They give up their precious time with their loved ones to protect and keep us safe when we’re enjoying being with our friends and family.

In between the last morsel of Christmas ham being consumed, the end of the Boxing Day Cricket Test and the lighting of the New Year fireworks I hope that everyone in the Riverina electorate can take the time to reflect on the year that was. It was a tough one for many in terms of flooding and natural disasters, but it was also a rewarding one for others and the many achievements it delivered.

I’m grateful for the support shown to my family, staff and I in what was a busy but productive election year. I’m also glad as the re-elected Federal Member to have been able to celebrate the many accomplishments of individuals, communities and small businesses and witnessed the goodwill and kindness shown to others throughout the difficult times this year.

As the end of the year draws nearer, my wife Catherine and I extend our best wishes to all for a Happy Christmas and a successful 2017 and again encourage everyone to stay safe, make good choices and remember the reason for the season.

Cristy Houghton