Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grim Christmas?

Jay Leno, channeling Rodney Dangerfield, said "times are so bad, Santa is down to one HO". Is it shaping up to be a grim Christmas season or is it a time to be thankful?

If Christmas means buying or receiving gobs of new gadgets and designer clothes, jewelry, etc., then you are certainly in the wrong year.

The Happiness Equation is "what you have" divided by "what you want". Most of us have little control over things like credit default swaps and toxic mortgage assets. But they impact our job security, the equity in our homes, and our investments. And the impact sucks for most of us.

When the numerator of the Happiness Equation is sinking like a rock, you need to reduce the denominator to stay happy. Cutting back on spending is the first reaction, although cutting back on spending is a large part of the problem - there is over-reaction in the market and it leads to a vicious downward spiral.

You can also reassess "what you have" - like your health, your family, your friends - in other words, your blessings. Christmas is a season to rejoice in those things, not just the material. Except for the very unfortunate, groceries are relatively inexpensive, and Christmas is a time for cooking those special recipes.

Christmas is also coincident with the winter solstice. Pagans (North of the Equator) celebrated the shortest day of the year because the next day could only be longer. Whether you rejoice or not this Christmas has little to do with whether the end of the world is at hand. And one of these days, the next day can only be better.

PS If you need to put a face on the grinch, Dick Fuld has my vote.

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