True value of the Christmas celebrations should not be judged on what we spend
To completely misquote the British Foreign Secretary in 1914, Sir Edward Grey, “The lights are going on all over the Westcountry and they shall stay lit until sometime in the New Year”.
It seems strangely appropriate that just a few days after the commemoration of the centenary of the Armistice, towns and cities began turning on their Christmas lights. Having encouraged us to stop and remember we are now urged to celebrate and live. Oh, and buy of course, The whole point of the lights and the markets and the funfairs is to get us to open our wallets and spend, spend, spend. I was once a chaplain at a Bluecoat School in the Midlands. Some students in an exam were asked, “What is the name that Christians give to the period leading up to Christmas?” One young man wrote: “Expensive”. I was saddened that, despite my encouragement, his teacher wouldn’t give him extra marks for perception.
The truth is that this is an expensive time of the year and we know that many will incur debt believing that only with the latest game, gadget or craze can their children have a truly memorable Christmas. Now I don’t want to raise the spirit of Scrooge so early in the proceedings, but I do want to sound a note of caution.
The value of Christmas should not be judged by the amount we spend. Don’t get me wrong I love buying presents. But I also know that, cliché, it really is “the thought that counts.”
Good relationships, loving families and supportive friends are gifts that can’t be wrapped in shiny paper and put under a tree. Even the Grinch, who famously despised Christmas, came to see this truth: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”
With just a week to go before the beginning of Advent maybe this is the time to pause, reflect and pray that whatever we spend this Christmas what we give and who we are will be so much more.