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It has taken me a while to get into the Christmas mode this year – mainly because we have been consumed with a major renovation that has been taking place in our home. So now that the cleaning is done and the furniture put back in its rightful place – I have been able to focus on this important, yearly festival and the Christmas tree has finally gone up!

One of the first events that mark Christmas season to me – is to attend one of the local Carol Services and I did just that on Friday evening. It was a wonderful occasion and I was impressed at how the singers incorporated new style singing into traditional carols. I would imagine that some people would not like that but for me, I found it quite enjoyable and it got me thinking about the importance of old and reliable behaviours and the way things are done because they have always been done that way and I thought of the importance of not just doing what has always been done but rather looking at those things and challenging them – making changes where the tradition is no longer relevant but standing firm on those traditions that  have been built upon our values. I believe that our values should dictate our actions.

When I read the statement made by W Somerset Maughan,

                                  “Tradition is a guide and not a jailer”

I relate very well with this. Far too often in my work, I see the result of families and individuals being pressured into spending money on gifts at Christmas that far surpasses their affordability and they feel the need to use credit in order to keep up with tradition – not because they want to but simply because they feel forced to. It is a tradition of their family or culture to always spend extravagantly or give the appearance of having spent a lot and if not – family members are insulted. That to me speaks of tradition being a jailer.

My goodness! When did we swap the freedom of giving for a performance to be scored? Gift giving is totally optional and the thought behind a gift given should be one of love and a desire to show love and appreciation for someone who has affected your life or is in your life and you just want to bless them.

So with Christmas day moving swiftly towards us – can I give you one piece of advice – make a stand for common sense! If you haven’t prepared for Christmas giving this year, decide what you can afford and buy gifts for those you love that fit in with that. You can accompany it with a well thought out letter or card that explains your actions. For those who love you – that note and small gift will not be offensive – in fact you may well be the voice that was needed in a family where others have felt the burden of “having to” and many of your family and friends will thank you. For those who do get offended, I would suggest that they are not thinking about you and the best for your family but rather themselves and the amount of money they spent and is that really worth going into debt for? In fact maybe you can warn them all ahead of time – let them know that this year you are not going into debt for Christmas – so then they won’t feel so “snubbed” by you not conforming to their traditions.

Please don’t get me wrong – I love gift giving at Christmas but I plan for it and if one of my children came to me and said they couldn’t afford Christmas this year – it would not offend me one little bit and I would love them all the more because they had the courage to stand up and not succumb to credit just to save face.

So do enjoy Christmas with your family and loved ones. Do enjoy all of the things that make Christmas special to you but please don’t go into debt for your gifts – I have known people take months to recover from such purchases. Instead, start a Christmas fund for Dec 2020 and put enough money away so that you can spend the way you would like to and have the freedom to give the gifts you want to next year and you will love the difference that makes to your Christmas.

Hope I’ve given you food for thought – feel free to share:)

Happy Christmas Everyone!!