I can only imagine my relatives’ joy when they realise I've used recycled wrapping paper for their gift; when it dawns that I’ve used their very own wrapping from last year, including label with names crossed out and re-written, their admiration for my frugality will be truly unconcealable. 

Sadly, this time of year sees people spend more than they can afford. The pressure to break budgets and max out the cards is stronger than ever. Yet the gifts that people most need cannot be purchased or obtained with borrowed cash. Love, forgiveness, patience, kindness and concern are priceless, for their demand greatly outstrips supply. Parents working long hours to buy expensive presents would serve their children better by spending time with them, together making memories, strengthening those ties of blood and kin. Distant friends might appreciate a phone call, a hand-written note inside a card; the stranger might delight in a smile or a warm-hearted greeting from one passing by.

Christmas, ostensibly commemorating Christ’s nativity, is essentially about a free, yet priceless, gift: salvation and sin’s forgiveness. Yet this wicked world has corrupted and confused that memorial with a wasteful triteness, a gross festival of acquisition and greed. Cheap and tacky ephemera clutter our homes while clogging spiritual arteries, pushing some to January’s poverty and belt-tightening. Anything bought with money will never really satisfy.


Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Isaiah 55:2