“During a time of adversity and of uncertainty, thank goodness that we have traditions like Christmas to keep us grounded in what matters most. Things like family, gratitude, generosity to others, and for many people, faith.

“The light of Christmas comes at the darkest time of year. But with it, our lives are enlightened by family and friends, by the warmth of happy memories, by the exchange of gifts, and of course the smiles of children as they create their own lifetime Christmas memories.

“For Christians, the light of Christmas is a newborn who in the words of scripture is ‘the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’

“Whatever our own beliefs or traditions, Christmas is a time for gratitude, forgiving, for hope, and for charity.

“This Christmas, we should be especially grateful for our frontline health-care workers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help save lives during the past two incredibly difficult years. We should also be grateful for the countless number of Albertans who've reached out to care for the isolated and those in need.

“Alberta created the Northern Lights Award to recognize some of these people who personify the spirit of Christmas, acting as lights in the darkness - from delivering groceries, to driving seniors to medical and vaccine appointments, from entertaining the elderly, to offering a hand to homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

“Thank you to everyone who has shown the best of Alberta's spirit of caring and of community.

“Let's all be inspired by their example, by reaching out over Christmas to people who might be isolated, or who are coping with family, financial, or mental health challenges.

“After these nearly two long years of loss and disruption, everyone needs to know that they are valued and that there is hope for a brighter future.

“Merry Christmas!

“May this be a time of joy, peace, and goodwill for you, and for all.”