For many people Christmas is the most stressful time of the year. It shouldn’t be.

Yes, Christmas is a traditional time of giving, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But what are we giving? Ourselves a heart attack, it seems.

Christmas advertising seems to start earlier each year. This may not be the case but there were definitely Christmas ads being shown in November and what starts off as a slow drumbreat increases in both speed and sound until it is a maddening cacophony.

People are hassled into binge spending everywhere. The final frenzy is as astounding as it is scary. People fight over carparks, they bump and grab in the supermarkets, they rack up purchases on their credit cards, spending money they don’t have and deferring payment to the ‘never never’.

Christmas is not a time to be austere but neither is it a time to be profligate. Through marketing ploys, and from status competition and the emotional pressure from children we can escalate our spending beyond what is sensible and what is necessary. When I see people rushing around on Christmas Eve like they are trying to get everything they can from a sinking ship I wonder if we are really sane!

There is food for thought over the Christmas holidays in the excellent article From Black Friday to a Better Way: Rethinking Consumer Spending and Enjoying the Holidays by Brent Blackwelder.