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A modest Christmas can be a merry one, too

12 December 2014


From Ruth Grayson

Sir, - It is good to know that so many parishes now offer debt advice (News, 5 December). It would be even better if parishes could do more to prevent personal debt among their parishioners in the first place.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has just announced that we do not need large bank balances in order to enjoy ourselves, or demonstrate generosity at Christmas. This message needs to be preached loud and clear from all pulpits.

Christmas is the single greatest cause of personal debt in the UK, after rent or mortgage arrears. And personal debt, in turn, is often the cause of family feuds, relationship breakdown, and even suicide. None of this should be atributable to a Christian festival that purports to be about "bringing good news to the poor".

There are many other ways of being generous at Christmas: giving time, giving skills, being neighbourly, and, above all, prioritising charitable giving (which is how St John the Baptist exhorted his followers to prepare for the coming of Christ in Luke 3.11).

If a larger proportion of that £26 billion estimated to be spent this year on our festivities in this country were allocated to charities working with the poor, homeless, and destitute in this country and overseas, that would indeed be good news for the whole world. It might also mean more enjoyment and less stress at home. It is up to us all.

25 Whitfield Road
Sheffield S10 4GJ

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