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A frugal Christmas story

  • 16 December 2008
I went to my first Christmas party this weekend and although it was fun, it triggered a sense that the silly part of the season is about to hit. Something comes into the air about now — a fraught pre-Christmas anxiety, as I and the rest of the city attempt to manage layers of pressure that have become part of the pre-Christmas period.

We circle the car park that little bit longer as tempers fray and blood pressure rises. We then battle and jostle with the crowds as we struggle to the finishing line, ticking off all the items on our Christmas list. We forget something and then have to face it all again.

We order turkeys, we order ham, juggling all of this with all the projects and reports that bosses or clients want completed by the end of the year.

In all the bustle and rush we forget what Christmas is really meant to be about: an opportunity to contemplate the transformative power of the divine becoming human among and for us.

And this year there are additional stresses. The global financial crisis is starting to have its effect, impacting on communities everywhere. In my local community, the hair dresser has felt it already and she's worried about keeping her staff. 'People leave it longer between colours,' she explains.

One of my daughters, Rachel, lost her part-time job as a nanny last week. Her loss is slight compared to her employer's, a young mother who works in the finance industry. She said to Rachel: 'I'm sorry I didn't give you more notice but I wasn't given any notice myself,' her voice catching as she choked back tears.

She will have more on her mind than the usual pre-Christmas madness as her young family faces an uncertain New Year.

Let's hope Prime Minister Rudd's $10.4 billion stimulus package and the further infrastructure spending recently announced will actually generate 75,000 new jobs in time for her family and others in the same position to feel the benefit soon.

But at the same time, let's hope that while we focus on the economy and doing our bit to spend it out of recession that we don't forget the bigger economic and environmental problems we all know are brewing. At a personal level, we still need to find the balance between doing our bit of spending to save the global economy and collectively snubbing consumerism.

Self-denial can still help make the