The True Cost of Christmas


The True Cost of Christmas

How much does Christmas cost? I overheard two young mums worrying about this in the supermarket. The answer is that it can cost rather a lot. In fact nearly a staggering £2 billion in Scotland on presents alone. It seems the Christian tradition of the Three Kings bringing their precious gifts to the stable in Bethlehem has got out of control.

According to the charity Money Advice Trust over 16 million people in Britain take on extra credit over Christmas. Many do so to pay for presents for loved ones, especially children, but disturbingly an estimated 10 million people use credit not for lavish presents but just to pay for food at this time of the year. People are understandably stressed by the worry of Christmas spending leaving them with a New Year debt repayment headache.

The economy, our jobs and our lives feel a bit precarious just now. So I suspect fewer people will mark this Christmas with conspicuous consumption.  As the year draws to a close we look back on a series of disturbing events – the unending tragedy of Syria, extremist terrorism and mass migrations, and the shock of Brexit. We question our sense of identity and wellbeing and what the future holds.

Paradoxically of course the true cost of Christmas is actually nothing. The birth of Jesus Christ is the way God exercises unbounded generosity to humankind. This is the power of love rather than the credit card; and I believe that a similar giving of ourselves and our time is the challenge for each of us.

This year my children and grandchildren are heading to Dundee and we look forward to enjoying a family Christmas in Bishops House. However you are spending the holiday season may your Christmas be peaceful, happy and blessed; and at the year’s turning my hope and prayer is that 2017 will unfold in ways that enrich your life and the lives of those with whom you live and work.

The Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton is the Bishop of Brechin of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Bishop Nigel’s article published in the Courier Dundee

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