Christmas is over, isn’t it?
For most people who do not know, or worse do not care about the origin of Christmas then it is over, or they think it is. For a significant number of people, no, Christmas is not over
When Jesus was born he was brought gifts by shepherds and wise men, the Magi. The shepherds brought lambs on the night of Jesus’ birth, having been told by angels of the event. Whilst popularly in Nativity plays the wise men are at the crib on the same night as the shepherds, in reality they arrived some days later bringing the gold, frankincense and murre.
It is these gifts of the shepherds and the magi that form the basis of the gift giving tradition at Christmas that continues still.
The retailers and marketing companies of today only see the commercial opportunity and constantly exhort us to buy more, bigger and more expensive gifts; Christmas inflation, if you like,which probably far outstrips the retail price index (RPI) or consumer price index (CPI).
When the shepherds and Magi brought the infant Jesus their gifts, as far as we know they were from within their means. Expensive gifts from the Magi and gifts in kind, lambs, from the shepherds. None of the givers incurred a debt to pay for the gifts they gave.
Today it is very different. Celebrating Christmas is often paid for after the event, when the credit card bills are pushed through the post box.
BBC News said this week that “Lenders reported an increasing number of borrowers faced difficulties repaying loans and overdrafts at the end of the year.”
Some bills will be paid off within the interest free period. These will usually be the ones for whom paying for Christmas by credit card is merely a convenience, and those who do not spend beyond their means. For these people Christmas will really be over in January when the credit card bill is paid.
Some people however, people who are determined to enjoy Christmas at any cost, will still be paying for Christmas just gone for months, maybe almost until the next one. They have bought gifts and treats they can’t really afford.
They buy, eat and drink enough to keep a football team ‘happy’ for a week. They think the only way to celebrate is with an excess of everything, including over-the-top presents, some of which will be discarded, forgotten or used up long before the bill for Christmas is paid.
So when is Christmas over? for a lot of people, though they might think it’s over on the day they go back to work after the holiday, it is really not over until the credit card bill is paid off.
“And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“Both very busy, sir…”
“Those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had
better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”