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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington  

Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?

Grace Dent
 

Our political landscape is not changing anywhere near as much as we assume it is

Steve Richards
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'