We are trying to claw our way back from the worst recession since the Second World War, while Government spending cuts and job losses loom large on the horizon.
Yet astonishingly, retail analysts predict that we will spend more than ever this Christmas, as the costs and commercialism of the festive season continue to spiral out of control.
Where once a hula hoop and some chocolate – or, if you were really lucky, a bicycle – awaited youngsters on Christmas morning, parents now face a struggle to afford the gifts their children crave.
The rise of technology has been seized upon by retailers who are increasingly adept at aiming their products at young consumers, who then use 'pester power' to convince mum and dad to splash sums their parents before them would not have dreamt of spending.
This leaves families facing difficult decisions that in many cases have an impact right through the year, as they do without in order to afford the growing costs of Christmas.
The fear is not only for the parlous financial state in which this emphasis on consumption places many households across our city and region.
But also for the growing separation between our children's expectations of Christmas and the true meaning of the season.
Tis the season to be safe
STAYING on the theme of Christmas, the party season will soon be in full swing.
It's a great opportunity to let our hair down with work colleagues or to catch up with old friends.
However, there is also a dark side to the celebrations.
There are some who seek to prey on unwary revellers by spiking their drinks or pouncing as they make their way home through desertedcity and town centres.
Winter patrols to try to prevent unwary revellers becoming victims of sex attacks will therefore provide a reassuring presence on our streets.
Personal responsibility must of course play a part, but it is to be hoped that the patrols create a safer environment in which partygoers can enjoy themselves.
It is just a pity that we live in a world where such measures are seen to be necessary.
EAGER to encourage more couples to consider a church wedding, the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds has decided to take a major step.
Ripon Cathedral is to host its first wedding fair, complete with a team reminding visitors of the advantages of a church wedding and changes which make it easier for couples to marry closer to home.
The Church of England has often been accused of failing to be pro-active in making itself relevant to younger people.
Could this move be a signal that it is at last waking up to the fact?