Christmas begins for me with the opening chords at the Loddon Valley Carol concert. It is a pleasure to hear the massed choirs of our local primary schools, and a joy to listen to the fine musicians of the Berkshire Maestros youth orchestra. The songs, carols and music they provide reminds us of the joy of giving at the heart of the Christmas message. Christmas is a time for wonder, for the warmth of hearth and home, for the magic of Santa. It is a time for children, whose excitement is infectious. Their enthusiasm makes the work in shopping, decorating, cooking and preparing so worthwhile.
Nor is Christmas limited to the young. All of us who remain young at heart still get a thrill from the sounds, smells, tastes and delights of the festive season.
It is also a time for all of us to say thank you to those who do so much to provide the services which help our community thrive, to thank those who work for charity, who help those in need, who ensure the lonely and the elderly are not neglected. The Christian message behind our festival embraces a wider feeling for everyone. It rests on the simple idea that love and community, giving and helping others, enriches the giver as well as the receiver.
I wish you and yours every happiness at Christmas. I hope you all have a great break and enjoy the comfort of your homes, friends and families. I also know that many of you will make sure our relatives and neighbours do not end up lonely over the holiday period