Generic gifts from Santa let children know they are poor

IT’S the thought that counts, so we’re told. The actual gift doesn’t matter. But try telling that to a child on Christmas morning after they’ve ripped the wrapping off a pair of socks.

I’ve been thinking about the spirit of giving since collating The National’s St Andrew’s Day list of festive food, toy and gift appeals. Following the progress of these collections online, it’s truly heartening to see the response.

I expect most of those who participate are not wealthy – research has consistently found those with less money are more generous than those with plenty – but these secret Santas put a huge amount of thought, time and care into sourcing their donations for children whose families struggle at this time of year.

In light of this, it feels horribly uncharitable to question whether the festive goodwill could be channelled in a slightly different direction…

Read the rest of this column at

Published in The National on December 7 2018.

Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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