So many people think the Christmas season is about buying stuff. (In actual fact so many people think life is about buying stuff… but we’ll leave that for now.) As much as I love giving gifts to those I love, and enjoy sharing what I have with others, I don’t ever think that should be limited to the month of December.
Giving is more than spending money on a present that the receiver may or may not want, and may or may not leave in a box until they can find someone else to give it to. Giving is about the surrendering of your own agenda. It’s about listening to a friend, and not wanting to jump in with your own stories. It’s about being able to just be in silence with someone else. It’s about remembering to ask them how their day was before moaning about your own. It’s about recognising when they’re having a really crap day, but trying not to show it. It’s about the encouraging smile or wink that you sneak in when no-one else is looking. Christmas may include the giving and receiving of hundreds of pounds worth of presents for you – but don’t forget to give yourself to your loved ones. Chances are they’ll remember that gift much longer than the one in the wrapping paper.
DNCIC recommendations for today:
• Cut up the credit cards now. If things are really that bad, then there’s really no alternative.
• Only use cash. It will help you keep a better check on how much you’re spending.
• Do another quick bit of mental arithmetic. How much do you earn? How much can you afford? What can you realistically spend on Christmas this year?
• For help with debt, phone the National Debtline on 0808 8084000 or go to the Citizens Advice Bureau website, www.adviceguide.org.uk. The Christian Stewardship website www.stewardship.org.uk also has lots of helpful information including a Christmas challenge and top ten tips for financial management at Christmas. Or look at the Church of England’s Matter of Life or Debt pages www.cofe.anglican.org/debt.
• And what other debts do you have? What outstanding claims of love, forgiveness, generosity and mercy do you owe, and how will you pay them?
“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”