The real meaning of Christmas? It got buried under an Instagram-worthy avalanche of presents

Presents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA WirePresents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA Wire
Presents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA Wire | Press Association Images/Press Association Images
It's beginning to look a lot like the real meaning of Christmas has been buried under an Instagram-worthy pile of presents

It’s beginning to look a lot like the real meaning behind Christmas has been left behind. And with consumerism continuing to run rampant, along with social media having morphed into an exhibition of who has the most perfect life, is it really any wonder? You only need to see the effort that goes into retailers’ Christmas advertising to understand what a cash cow the festive season has become.

Today, National World is running a story about a mother who posted on TikTok about her Christmas budget, setting a £100 limit on presents for each of her three children - amounting to £300 worth of gifts being unwrapped in just one day. And she received attacks and even death threats from fellow TikTokkers who told her she was being cheap.

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As someone who follows the four-gift rule - something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read - I rarely, if ever, exceed the £100 mark per child. And I can confirm my children love Christmas just as much as the next excitable youngster. Perhaps even more. Because they don’t see Christmas as an unending slog of unwrapping gift after gift, they appreciate the day for everything that it is.

Presents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA WirePresents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA Wire
Presents under a Christmas tree burying the real meaning of Christmas. Picture: PA Wire | Press Association Images/Press Association Images

My eldest looks forward most to the massive roast dinner; my youngest loves to have his mum and dad around to play games and do jigsaws with. And we all love to snuggle on the sofa to watch the latest Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler animation on the BBC - it’s Tabby McTat this year, an absolute favourite in our household.

When I see people sharing their photos of mountains of gifts under an immaculately manicured tree, I don’t think ‘wow, they must be great parents’, I wonder what’s missing that they feel the need to plug the gap with by spending gratuitous amounts of money. Perhaps that money could be better spent elsewhere to recapture the real spirit of Christmas and teach young people the joy is not always in the receiving, but in the giving too?

Home furnishings retailer Dunelm runs a wonderful campaign where you can pop in to a store, choose a tag from their Christmas tree which has a gift request, from a child who might otherwise go without, written on it. Some of the requests which have circulated on socials include a child asking for a bag of Haribo Tangfastics and another asking for new underwear. The scheme is both heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure.

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Financial security for the family must come before getting into debt so you can splurge on presents you can ill afford, and perhaps achieve a staged Instagram photo or two. But if you do find you have money burning a hole in your pocket, maybe treat a child who might receive nothing come the big day, and who would cherish the little something you bought for them - a little something that is exactly what they wished for.

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