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Credit crunch Christmas

Students are encouraged to consider what might be the essential, non-removable message of Christmas.

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


Students are encouraged to consider what might be the essential, non-removable message of Christmas.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a wrapped present, a Christmas tree, a Christmas card, a picture of Christmas dinner, and a posh dress.


  1. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you: because of the current world financial crisis we need to make some savings this Christmas. Something has to go if we are to make it through to 2009. So where should we start?
  2. (Produce the present.) We could save a lot by not giving and receiving presents. Just think of how many of them we don’t really want anyway. Every year we’re given socks, pants, cosmetics, books, loads of things that we shove to the back of the drawer. We could save on presents.
  3. (Produce the tree.) The Christmas tree. If it’s a real tree then Mum constantly complains about the needles on the floor. It takes up lots of space and usually gets knocked over at least once. I think we could get rid of the tree with very few complaints.
  4. (Produce the card.) As for Christmas cards, who still sends them? It would be so much easier to send a text or email round our address book, wishing everyone who knows us a happy Christmas. Then we’d be certain we hadn’t missed out anyone. There’s another few pounds saved.
  5. (Produce the picture of a Christmas dinner.) I don’t know about this one. Just think of it – no succulent turkey, roast potatoes, sausages wrapped in bacon, sprouts and carrots …

    (Pause for a moment and look around at the students.)

    Well, maybe some of you would ditch the sprouts and carrots! It would, however, be a real sacrifice to get rid of Christmas dinner, but if we had to be ruthless then it could be shepherd’s pie instead. We wouldn’t starve.
  6. (Produce the posh dress.) Have you still got last year’s outfit? More importantly, does it still fit you? Could you wear it again to this year’s parties? Maybe if everyone agreed to do the same then we wouldn’t be self-conscious. So we could save by not buying a new outfit.
  7. We’ve managed to save quite a lot, and in doing so we’ve not sacrificed anything that we couldn’t really do without. So could we do without Christmas entirely?

    We have festivals throughout the year: Easter, May Day, Harvest, Hallowe’en, Christmas, New Year. Each one is to remind us of some belief or concept that holds us together as a society. If you are a member of a non-Christian faith then you would add other festivals that are important in binding your community together.

    Christmas is about the Christian belief that God came to live a human life among ordinary people like you and me. He came as a baby, Jesus. The Christmas story tells us of the variety of ways in which people responded to his birth: with awe, wonder and hopefulness, or with fear and aggression. It challenges us to consider how we respond to God at work in the world now.
  8. The Jesus story comes free. We don’t have to pay to read it, to listen to it, to sing the Christmas carols that recount the story. So we wouldn’t be making any saving by deciding to leave it out from our festivities. Yet often it’s the first thing to go.
  9. This Christmas is going to be a little different for many people – a little more serious, tinged with some worry about the future. Maybe you won’t be feeling it for yourselves, but you can be sensitive to your parents and other adults you know. They’ll be feeling it. So remind them about the Christmas story and make sure that at some point you read and sing about the shepherds and wise men, Mary and Joseph, and most of all about Jesus.

    You may even find it gives you all some encouragement.

Time for reflection

Spend a moment considering the following thoughts. You may wish to turn them into a prayer:

Be thankful for all you can look forward to this Christmas and the people who you trust to provide it.

Be sorry for any self-centred attitudes; wanting for yourself.

Make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly. It might be to do something that will make Christmas better for someone else, or to let people know that you expect less in these hard times. Definitely make a plan to look at the Christmas story and think about what it might mean for you in 2008.


Choose any lively Christmas carol.

Publication date: December 2008   (Vol.10 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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