I am appalled by what Christmas has become.

I have no qualms about celebrating the birth of the Saviour. I understand that the origins of what we now know as Christmas were in giving the best that we could give, as a metaphor for God's gift to us.

The Festival of Commercialism and Self-Indulgence in which we are now immersed cannot be considered Christian; it has far more to do with the original pagan midwinter festival on to which the Christian one was grafted. There is nothing inherently Christian about spending way beyond our means, or over-eating and drinking. There is no Christian motive behind playing Christmas Carols in shops from early November onwards; in fact, they are there purely to stimulate a seasonal 'feeding frenzy' of the most appalling kind.

Sentimentalists might stop me at this point and tell me "well, it's for the children; it's a time for family." But in an age when family ties are in turmoil, and a significant proportion of the population do not live within the traditional notion of 'family', this argument does not bear close scrutiny.

Of course, the children do enjoy being indulged with all the latest gizmos to some extent, but are they a valid substitute for the love and attention of their family? Too often these days presents are given to children as 'guilt-offerings' for failing to spend more time with them. But does this justify the pressure and debt to which so many parents are subjected each year? Most of us realise that the 'must-have' accessories of this Christmas will have been relegated to some unregarded corner of the bedroom floor by mid-February, and the hunger for some other gadget will soon have supplanted it.

Spare a thought for the single, the widowed, the housebound and the homeless. When everything is closed and everyone is at home watching television, who is there to keep them company?

Perhaps it is time to take the Christ out of Christmas. Maybe that local Council which, out of a virulent attack of political correctness, decided to rename it 'Winterval', were on the right track after all.

as published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 14th December 2000
...and the response...


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