By MPP Toby Barrett
“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”
– Thomas S. Monson
One of my traditions on Christmas Day is to listen to the Queen’s message.
This 75th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 1939 saw the establishment of the Royal Christmas Broadcast. With large parts of the world facing an uncertain future, King George VI spoke live to offer a message of reassurance to his people. In his message, he said, “A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.”
And on December 25, 1944, CBC tested its new international service with a Christmas broadcast to Canadian troops in Europe. A small regular audience of Canadian troops and Europeans developed. Full service was launched in February 1945.
The war-time Christmas Broadcasts played a large part in boosting morale and reinforcing belief in the common cause. When the war ended the broadcasts – with their sentiments of unity and continuity – continued as a matter of course throughout the subsequent decades of change.
Queen Elizabeth began her tradition of Christmas message after the death of her father – King George VI – in February 1952.
It was her grandfather — King George V – who initiated the Christmas message in 1932. Originally hesitant about using the relatively untried medium of radio in this way, the King was reassured by a visit to the BBC, and agreed to take part. And so, on Christmas Day, 1932, King George V spoke on the ‘wireless’ to the Empire.
The text of the first Christmas speech was written by poet and writer Rudyard Kipling and began with the words, “I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them.”
The first televised message was broadcast live in 1957. It allowed viewers to see the Queen in her own residence decorated for Christmas like many homes across the world.
This year marks the Queen’s 58th Christmas broadcast. She gives her own views on events and developments which are of concern both to Her Majesty and her public.
Elizabeth II has had a tremendous influence on people worldwide – not through raw power, but through her station in life, her personality and her determined hard work. She has touched us all whether many of us realize it or not.
The establishment of the Christmas broadcast as an annual tradition creates a sense of continuity for many. Though each year’s theme is chosen by the Queen and reflects her own interests, it is always motivated by compassion and concern for her people.
With technological advances meaning viewers have a choice of format – television, radio or Internet the Christmas broadcast is more accessible than ever. I encourage all, as we search for true values, to tune in Christmas Day!
Have a good Christmas everyone!