The season of good cheer and gifts is a hard sell in Europe this year. The latest financial figures reveal that people simply cannot afford to dig any deeper into their pockets amid the burden of austerity cuts and increased taxes.
Christmas, for many, represents a season of giving to loved ones. In turn, not having enough money to do sufficient giving can be a painful experience.
All this seasonal stress is a reminder to Europeans that they are paying for the financial mismanagement of their governments and banks.
Al Jazeera's Simon McGregor-Wood reports from London.