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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform