True value of the Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions should not be judged on what we spend

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - News -

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.

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