It was early July when the first signs went up urging people to book early for Christmas. This was at the sort of eating place where you could look forward to a meal largely frozen in March and then trucked out down the distribution network in bulk when needed to be sold at roughly ten times either costs or home cooking.
Our concession to the season is a reduced price offer Hogmanay bottle of 46.3% juice called Bunnahabhain from one of my ancestral patches to blot out any memory of 2012 and to start 2013 in a state of merciful oblivion.
It is my contention that any purchaser of either this or the other Islay juices should be awarded a vote in the coming Scottish referendum, on condition that enough should have been consumed to render the business of putting in the cross to be totally random.
But apart from geo-political issues of this kind Christmas is a serious economic matter. With many high streets struggling and the figures not looking as good as our masters want them to be, despite all the fiddling, they will be wanting us to go out and spend, hopefully mostly on debt to the advantage of the financial sector.
Our eyes and ears are going to take a real battering from all the marketing whenever we switch on the TV and with product placement now a norm there will barely be a minute or to before the camera rests on one identified consumable or another.
One way or another hired pundits will talk up prospects, we will be endlessly turning corners, interest rates will be forced down regardless of the economics, sales will be never ending and new gizmos abound and pushed harder and harder. The kids will take the full force of this and parents will take the full force of the kids’ desires.
It is possible that this year it may go beyond simple hyperactivity into manic warp drive of persuasion and almost bullying to make us buy. Governments will need the figures to look “good” that is in a way that suggests that they can buy a little more time before making difficult decisions. Business and banking need our spending as never before.
So whether you adopt my approach to the season or theirs there could be an almighty hangover come mid January, mine for the obvious reason, most peoples when the bills come in and they realised that their squeezed incomes were not able to stand the strain.
One of the unrecognised features of modern economies is that the knock on effects of undue divergence of spending and borrowing seem to be increasing. The damage inflicted by sharp swings of spending and contraction becomes a progressive stress to the system.
In time, as more stresses accumulate the system will fail again and after each failure be more difficult to restore to any normal or expected function. In any case, our ideas of “normal” are not matched either in history or in the experience of many others around the world.
No wonder Santa looks fed up. He is being asked to do too much. Keeping kids happy with a few toys is one thing. Propping up decaying western economies is quite another.