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All About the Presents?

The true meaning of Christmas

by James Lamont (adapted)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to consider that at Christmas, time spent with family and friends is more important than presents.

Preparation and materials

  • Optional: you may wish to use the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (All About the Presents?), in which case you will also need the means to display them.


  1. Christmas is celebrated in different ways around the world.

    - The tradition of displaying a decorated tree indoors at Christmas originated in Germany.
    - The traditional Christmas meal in Japan is not roast turkey, but KFC.
    In Australia, Christmas falls in the middle of summer, so people might go to the beach or have a barbecue.
    - Christmas in Russia is celebrated on 7 January, not 25 December, because the Russian Orthodox Church uses a different calendar.

    However, there is one thing that Christmas is associated with in all rich countries around the world: presents.

  2. The image of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, handing out gifts to excited children is more common in some countries than that of Jesus in the manger. Presents and advertising are everywhere. From the day after Halloween until the end of the January sales, shops and retailers prepare to make money.

    It was estimated that British consumers would spend £512.85 each on Christmas presents in 2019. Spending on Christmas presents is a vital part of the retail business, and an essential part of national economies.

  3. However, although this generosity must be applauded, it should cause us to stop and think. Christmas is a huge expense: not just in terms of presents, but also food, drinks, decorations and travel. All of this can cause stress and pressure.

    The dream of a perfect Christmas - where the snow falls, the children are happy and there’s a big pile of presents under a beautifully decorated tree - is often just that, a dream. The reality is often tired parents, hyperactive children, rain and too much food and drink.

  4. Advertising and films portray this perfect Christmas, but such high expectations simply create more chances for disappointment. Spending lots of money on fancy presents does not necessarily lead to a perfect Christmas. Instead, spending more time with people is the true meaning of Christmas.

  5. At Christmas, time spent with our family, our friends and the lonely and unfortunate is more important than presents under the tree. Time spent together is the greatest gift.

Time for reflection

What are our priorities this Christmas?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Are there people to whom we should be showing particular care this Christmas?

Pause to allow time for thought.

2020 has been a tough year for many people. Are there people who live nearby to whom we could make a difference this year?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Thank you for Christmas.
Thank you for our families and our friends.
Please help us to focus our lives on the things that truly matter.
Please help us this year to take the time to look around and see those in need.


Any Christmas song.

Publication date: December 2020   (Vol.22 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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