The Archbishop of Canterbury is right, expensive gifts can damage Christmas

Perhaps we should try and keep Christmas in proportion this year

Share
Related Topics

I like to think we are not a particularly materialistic family. We share an iPad, my eldest daughter’s favourite toy was until very recently an antique Etch a Sketch (she’s nine) whilst the youngest (aged six) likes to sit at the kitchen table and draw pictures with her coloured pencils.

But from first light last Christmas Day these two otherwise well-behaved little girls were like a pair of wild dogs falling upon their prey, ripping piles of packages apart with frenzied and faintly blood-curdling intensity.

In fact – like many families - they have so many presents they have to open them in two if not three sittings, presumably to prevent their little fingers becoming crippled with the repetitive strain of uncovering the “treasures” within.

Treasures, it should be said, which are briefly glanced at before being tossed to the floor to allow them to move on to the next one as quickly as possible whilst my wife struggles to note the gift and the name of the donor so that the reluctant thank you cards can trickle out in the new year.

I’m exaggerating. Slightly. It is a scene which is repeated, to a lesser extent, at birthdays too and one which we justify on the basis that the children enjoy it with unbridled if shallow joy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s invocation to forsake such atavistic outbursts of present-lust is a timely plea from the country’s most senior clergyman that perhaps, just perhaps, we should try and keep Christmas in proportion this year.

Dr Welby, a father of six, is not calling for a moratorium on gifts, rather to ditch the expensive ones that drive families into debt and place stress on the household for the rest of the year as they struggle to pay off their bills.

Research has suggested we will shell out £1,000 before the final turkey sandwich is consumed this year and queues are ripping each other’s throats out in the New Year sales. 

The Archbishop, an Old Etonian who abandoned the well-heeled life of a global oil executive for the calling of a cleric (albeit the grandest one in the land), is refreshingly realistic about the chances of his words having any impact.

He told ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show (the multi-millionaire saving expert who still buys his crisps at Poundland) that he doubts anyone will take any notice.

For those of us who would love to see the whole bacchanalian Yuletide orgy slimmed down into a church service, a few inexpensive gifts and a family meal, there is undoubtedly little hope. But perhaps it is time we stopped blaming the children.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Manager - Business Support Transformation, 1 year contract

£550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Walthamstow...

PHP Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: PHP Developer...

MIDDLE EAST CURRENT AFFAIRS OFFICER

£27,000-£34,000 per annum: US Embassy: An office of the US Embassy based in Be...

BALTIC CURRENT AFFAIRS OFFICER

£27,000-£34,000 per annum: US Embassy: An office of the US Embassy London base...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: what if Hillary sticks, drowning sorrows and open sesame

John Rentoul
 

i Deputy Editor's Letter:

Independent Voices, Indy Voices Rhodri Jones
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor