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Leading Article: Happy Christmas

WITH LUCK, or at any rate good planning, the cards have been sent, the turkey ordered and the presents bought, even if not wrapped yet. More likely, however, today will be a nightmare of last-minute purchases and desperate logistics, coming after what seems like months of merriment. All in aid of a day that, even in our increasingly secular world, remains special.

Of course, the doomsayers tell us that we should feel guilty for the gluttony, uneasy at the consumption, and unworthy of the comfort. Forget it. There is every reason for giving, to friends, family and, most importantly, to those in need. But Christmas is about light and laughter in the midst of winter, and indulgence in the coldest days. And this year there is much to celebrate in an economy that keeps flowing.

Next year? Who knows? Christmas cards may have been totally replaced by e-mail. The Queen's message will be downloaded on to the computer, the turkey genetically modified and the presents all ordered from a yet- to-be-created Internet billionaire's website. But whatever you are doing today, forget about the future and live for the moment. The one certainty in our world is the need for family, friends and good company. So enjoy - and have a very happy Christmas.