Christmas brings out the best in our community for a number of reasons. It draws together family and friends in a festive atmosphere to enjoy each other's company and share a laugh and good times in person, which to our detriment is becoming less common in a world where it is easier to communicate and do most things on line. Let us never lose this aspect of Christmas.
Regardless of traditions, backgrounds, faiths or beliefs, it is a time to reminisce and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, which for me is a time for giving and sharing. So this festive season I encourage you all to reach out to someone who may need a helping hand.
I am in awe of the number of people in this region who work towards making life better for others and I doff my hat to the many committed volunteers, community groups and organisations who work tirelessly to support those in need to make their lives that little bit better - to me, you are the heart and soul of Christmas.
Many will be looking forward to a welcome break and this will often involve travelling so be sure to allow plenty of time, don't be in a rush and remember - reaching your destination safely, even if a little late, is the most important thing. In East Gippsland it may also mean time in and around the water, so make common sense your priority and look out for your mates.
There will also be others who are working through this period to provide the important emergency and other services we need in our community and to those people, sincere thanks.
Christmas offers us the opportunity not only for celebration but also for reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the year to come. For various reasons it may not be the happiest time for all so we need to be respectful and supportive.
On behalf of my wife Kim and children Daniel, Lachlan and Nikita, I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas, and a bright and prosperous New Year, which I hope brings happiness and good health.