Has the spirit of Christmas been lost?

Looking at the upsides and downsides to the gifts of Christmas.

Written by Conor Jordan


Expensive items often top Christmas wish lists, with iPhones, laptops, tablets, e-readers, playstations, x-boxes and computer games frequently featuring. As a result, spending usually increases for many Irish households during the holidays. For some it rises dramatically, often ending up costing people more than they can afford. For many, the festive season can be a costly time of year. Christmas can become more about money and presents than it does about family.

Food for Christmas day is often plentiful and wide-ranging – selection boxes, sweets and chocolates are just some of the items filling the shopping list during the festive holidays. More is spent on food than practically any other time of the year, and probably even more time is spent eating it all throughout the Christmas period. We have more choice now than previous generations did; we have a great range of gifts to choose from and a wider selection of foods available for sweetening our festive season almost to the point of saturation.

Presents are often expected for each and every person. So Christmas has become synonymous with pricey gifts. The tree is usually carpeted with neatly wrapped shiny presents, stockings are filled, decorations sparkle and Christmas lights almost become blinding amid the tinsel and tree lights nestled in the faux Christmas tree towering in the corner of the living room. There is overindulgence, overspending, too much wine, too much chocolate, too much of everything and anything, all while the meaning of Christmas becomes lost amid the blur of shiny wrapping and expensive gifts.

The number one person in the house at Christmas becomes Santa rather than any of the family members, and the act of spending time together fades into the background. Thanks to the widespread availability of gifts, parents are placed under more pressure than ever and are made to feel that they must supply their children with presents they may not necessarily be able to afford. The holiday season can become more hassle than it's worth.

For many others though, Christmas may not be such a time of plenty and overindulgence. Christmas can be a lonely time – a time spent during the dark weeks of late December, just like any other month on the calendar. Some families are not as fortunate and can't afford the fancy gifts and possessions many of us wish Santa would deliver on Christmas morning. It can be difficult to recognise this reality, as the festive season has always been associated with presents and plenty of fine foods for those of us who have grown up in today's world.

Now, there is nothing wrong with overindulgence and being able to celebrate the holiday in the presence of family. However, the true meaning of Christmas may have become lost amidst the hype and glamour, as presents nearly become more important than people.

The true meaning of Christmas, which means being with close family, spending time in the company of loved ones and visiting close relatives seems to have become less important than the more commercialised festivities of modern day living. In comparison to years gone by, seasonal expenses has increased to such an extent that some families may end up spending more on Christmas than they ever have before. Yet the festive season still involves spending time with those close to you; it provides an opportunity to forget the hassles of everyday life.

Christmas should be all about celebrating with family and enjoying the spirit of giving regardless of what size, shape, colour or price the present is. The true meaning of Christmas lies in the giver and the receiver, rather than in the present.

Christmas may have become overly marketed. The holiday season has become a consumer-driven and sensationalised event where buyers are manipulated into thinking spending more and more is essential in order to have a great Christmas. New gifts, brand new toys, expensive items and a wide range of indulgent treats have become almost expected at Christmas. Yet all you really need is to spend time with family and friends (the people who care about you) and to have time to do and see things with family you may not be able to do during the year.

Sometimes it is important to strike a balance between the gifts on offer during the Christmas period and spending time with family. It is nice to receive gifts even if they are jumpers and socks from your nan. It is the thought that counts. The important thing is not to get overly caught up in the commercialised side of the festive season. Instead, remember who makes Christmas: the family. The spirit of Christmas lies in the gift of giving and sharing among those who are close to you. Without family, friends, relatives or people close to you, there would be no Christmas, only presents.

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