Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Over-spending and Debt at Christmas - please try and resist the temptation

I rarely touch on personal domestic matters, but at this time of year many people will become increasingly "excited" over the coming few weeks in the run-up to Christmas or the Festive Season or the Holiday Season or however you choose to describe it. I have little or no religious faith (I hover between Agnosticism and Atheism), but I have felt since I was becoming a teenager and then young adult that the idea that there was some "power" overseeing humanity was so much superstitious nonsense. I try to be "nice" in my personal dealings, so I hope that not too many are offended by my cavalier viewpoint, but ultimately if you are offended I'm afraid you will have to live with it, because in reality I don't much care. You have your views and I have mine.

In any case, however you view the coming few weeks, many people including me look upon the forthcoming Christmas holidays/festival/celebrations as an opportunity to get together with friends and family, eating and drinking rather more than is usual during the rest of the year, also offering hospitality and gifts to various family, friends and acquaintances and receiving similar in return. However, the simplest thing I can urge upon you is to not overdo it, and remember that if you are incurring debts, or your friends and family are, to fund this annual extravanganza, that booms generally are followed by busts. Debts incurred to fund this period will fairly soon have to be repaid, somehow or other. I realise that for younger families with young children that they will want to provide their children with a happy and exciting Christmas and certainly will not wish their own children to feel they are less fortunate than some of their classmate contemporaries, who receive the latest "must have" toys, games, clothes and gadgetry generally at this time of year. I understand the pressures that people face in a "consumer" society. Most of us have budgetary limits in what we can do; some of us have more "discretionary" income, beyond the absolute essentials, than others. Some amongst us have almost no such "discretionary" income at all and whatever "joy" (if any) they can look forward to over the coming weeks will be dependent on the help of others, which I hope will be as generous as others' means will allow.

But for everyone, I would like to urge some level of moderation, both in the desire to "give" and expectation of what you may wish or expect to "receive"; we all want to enjoy oursleves, but not at the expense (surely) of subsequent weeks or months of actual or near penury to pay for it. I volunteered for some years, quite some years ago now, with a charity organisation that sought to help people in various personal struggles and I always remember that another volunteer, when we were both "on duty" around this time of year, tried to explain to me the pressures she was under not to disappoint her own children in their expectations, which she was barely able (if at all) to satisfy. I am not "wealthy", but I suppose I am "comfortable" in comparison to many others, so it's possible that I don't always understand fully the pressures that face some others, I don't deny it, but I am very aware that not everyone is so fortunate as me.

In Nairn we have a weekly newspaper, published every Tuesday, as I have mentioned a few times before - The Nairnshire Telegraph does not have any online presence, so it is not possible to link to their articles, but one item they carry every week is a sort of 'moral homily' from some religious bloke signing himself 'Sandy Shaw - Nairn Christian Fellowship' and they are usually pretty trite, apart from being poorly written and full of logical non sequiturs. I read them, or at least glance at them, every week when I am in Nairn, and usually indulge in a little derisive chuckle and have at least once before written about something I read in the column - for example, in November/December 2011 when I wrote this. The article today (Tuesday, 6th December 2016) is the usual mix of religious mumbo-jumbo mixed in with practical advice, so whilst I find the former risible I am happy to acknowledge that that there is considerable "common sense" in the latter. The article this weeks is pithily entitled "Debt" and I reproduce it below:

The Nairnshire Telepgraph
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - page 8

Whatever your views on "religion" (and I have already expressed my own scepticism and indeed scorn for these "notions" and "beliefs" as they are what I regard as fiction), there is I think a good deal of common sense in the linked article. Do with my article what you will. In any case, enjoy yourselves over the coming weeks, but don't overdo it in any sense.

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