Christmas is about giving. Most of us agree on that. The expression of our love, care and interest in those close to us is how we celebrate Christmas. But that is changing.

I have heard of at least institution that has proclaimed:

“We have decided this year that instead of sending Christmas cards to each other, we will all donate to a charity.”

Although clearly well-intentioned, it strikes me that there are several things wrong with this directorate (for it was neither a proposition nor a collective decision).

If you don’t understand my gripe, then consider being told not to send Christmas cards at all. In isolation, this seems to me to be an unreasonable order. Also consider being told to donate to a charity of someone else’s choosing.

Both seem a little unsavoury: but when one is used to “offset” the other, combined with the collective pressure placed upon yourself, your peers and colleagues to contribute to a group effort, you might feel compelled to take part.

But why are these two requests combined? Why don’t they suggest that instead of decorating the staff room with tinsel and holly, everyone should donate to the local cat shelter? Why not cancel the Nativity play and ask the children to bring in tins of ravioli for the old people’s home?

Or… you can choose to give people Christmas cards and, if you feel so inclined, you could donate to a charity that you feel strongly for. It’s your Christmas to give!