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Christmas Mags

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Here’s a couple of magazine articles I have used over Christmasses past. Stuck for an idea? It’s not plagiarism if you change a few words… Incidentally, I have been called a bit of a scrooge, but I guess Christmas needs such people to make it seem better for everyone else.

Mag ’10

In the run up to Christmas it is difficult to escape the many, varied, and even conflicting traditions surrounding this special season. I recently surveyed some fifty teenagers about what the most important thing about Christmas is and there were all sorts of answers: family time, food, celebrating, giving presents, receiving presents one even said “probably something about Jesus.” Of course one would expect somebody who works for the church to become preachy about bringing the nativity back into a corporate and secular Christmas; but I’d like to furnish you with some Christmas-related numbers instead.

$96,824 is what it will cost a US citizen in 2010 to buy all of the gifts from the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ according to PNC’s Christmas price index (up just over 10% on last year). If you weren’t willing to splash out nearly 100k, you could always just get one of each item for a mere $23,439 (after all, nobody wants twelve drummers drumming). The gold rings experienced the largest single price-hike from last year, with a 30% rise in the price of gold.

£4,000 is the amount of money spent online by UK consumers on Christmas presents per second. This is roughly the same as last year, but it is interesting to note that whilst 93% of consumers polled said they would do some Christmas shopping online, only 3% thought they would do all of it online. (Data from IMRG).

80kg is the amount added to each Briton’s carbon footprint by unwanted gifts. This represents a national figure of £86,000,000 spent on unappreciated gifts – an average of £36 per person will be spent on those gifts that at best head for ebay and at worst head for the bin. (London Evening Standard online)

2.3mil people in the UK have not yet paid off their debts from Christmas 2009 (consumer intelligence). 30% of 18-24 yr olds will use credit to pay for Christmas 2010, and the average Briton will pay off their Christmas credit card bills in 5 months time (ING direct).

£868 is what the average UK adult will spend on Christmas. This includes £345 on gifts (although 35% will spend over £500). The Scots come out most generous with gifts – averaging at a £413 spend (who’d have thought?!) Food, drink, decorations, cards, postage, accessories will come to just under £230; the rest spent on transport, parties and hospitality. 33% will spend most on a present for a child, 16% on their wives and 7% on their husbands! (mail online)

£57.8billion is the expected total UK spend on Christmas 2010 (

637 people arrested in Wales over Christmas 2009 for driving under the influence of alcohol (North Wales Police).

1:100,000,000,000,000,000 the probability of Jesus fulfilling eight of the Old Testament’s messianic prophecies (depending on how you read scripture, there are around 350 that Jesus fulfilled!) This probability is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep, marking one of them, mixing them all up and having a blind-folded person select the marked one at random at the first attempt (Josh McDowell).

220% increase in church attendance expected during the festive season (the mirror online).

9:58am the average first family argument on Christmas day will arise (the mirror online).

7/2 the odds of a white Christmas (paddy power, at time of writing).

36% The proportion of 18-24 year olds that don’t know the Christmas story (Cardiff nativity group).

Clearly Christmas is big business. Retailers rely on it, and have little time left in the financial year if seasonal spending is slow. Families invest in each other; it is a time when people pull out all of the stops to be with loved ones. It’s big business for churches too, a great time to reach our arms out to the communities we’re serving and extend our welcome. I leave you with three final Christmas numbers. 3 – the number of gifts brought by the wise men (look closely at the nativity story; we don’t know how many wise men there were). 1 – the only Son of God; who came that first Christmas. And 0 – the number of countries outside of the UK that eat Christmas pudding.

Wishing you every blessing this Christmas,


Link ’08

In 1986 Cardinal Josef Ratzinger wrote on the topic of advent in the run up to Christmas. “Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope… It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”

In the years since that piece was written, lots has happened. The author himself has been somewhat significantly promoted; you would now refer to him as Pope Benedict XVI. His life has changed considerably in that time, as have (I’m sure) all of ours. With life in a constant state of change, our roles in life must also adapt. When more and more happens, it becomes easy to lose a sense of place in the ever-changing world around us. At this stage, our memories become important.

If memory serves it gives us the ability to store, retain and retrieve information – it is the tool that underpins the process of learning. Perhaps as memories become more and more distant, we have a tendency to blur them, we have a tendency to lose their meanings; we have a tendency to forget. If we do not remember, how can we hope to learn? We paused on 11th November to remember and reflect on the suffering caused by war; this was not simply an act of gratitude, but also an act of healing, of reconciliation, of learning, of hope.

The Church’s message this advent too is one of hope. In reconnecting with the Christmas story in amongst all of the business of the holiday season, we want to enjoy rediscovering its true message. It is the wonderful story of the birth of a Child and a beautiful tale of a father’s love for his children. It is the chronicle of a family that stands the tests of controversy and slander, even of death threats, and survives. It is a narrative that we may all engage with and feel different emotions – all of which are valid. Perhaps you will be attending a nativity and watching your children perform will evoke the same pride in you that Mary felt for her baby son. Maybe you will spend time with family that you do not see as often as you would like and share in the same joy that Jesus’ own family felt many years ago. You may spend Christmas surrounded by those whom you would not choose for company – this is not far from the mark in the original Christmas story either! In all of this we celebrate the gift of new life. As we remember that Jesus came, a helpless baby, into our world; we remember his promise of new life. As we remember, we learn. As we learn, we hope. As we hope, we go out determined to live that new life for the benefit of us and of those around us.

We warmly invite you to join us for as much, or as little, of this advent season as you please. We hope that this Christmas our church will provide a space in which you can celebrate “memories of goodness and thus open doors of hope.”



Written by two5two

December 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Blog / Reblog