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Really priceless

TS Wright's letter ('Paying a price for losing values', Letters, December 30), and his regret at the trend of replacing traditional Christmas values with crass consumerism, reminded me of American songwriter Tom Lehrer's 'Christmas Song' and the lines in relation to presents:

It doesn't matter how sincere it is

Or how heartfelt the spirit

Sentiment will not endear it

What's important is the price!

A significant proportion of the post-Celtic Tiger cubs seem to be forgetting the real spiritual meaning of the day and concentrating on the commercial aspects -- 'What did I get for Christmas?' or 'When do the sales start?'.

What about, 'How is my widowed neighbour doing?' or 'How can I help to ease the suffering of the homeless?'.

If we could recapture the ability to care for each other, it may also point the way to a more inclusive, community-based secular faith that is reflective of the challenges we face in the Ireland of today.

Returning to Lehrer's song:

On Christmas Day you can't get sore

Your fellow man you must adore

There's time to rob him all the more

The other three hundred and sixty four

It could be a metaphor for an Ireland where extravagance reigned, where a former Taoiseach charged €300+ (in today's value) for a bottle of French wine to the taxpayer or a former CEO made his bank pay for a €2,300 stay in the Dorchester.

Let's leave those days behind us and recapture the Irish spirit of friendliness, generosity and care that once made us so lauded around the world. Is feidir linn.

Mark Lawler
Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Irish Independent