Now that Halloween is over, the holidays are officially started. Although Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Lowes, and every other box store thought the Christmas season started in August.
When I was a kid, Halloween was always a blast. Weeks earlier, my mom would start suggesting custom ideas for me and my five siblings. Quite a process since those were the days we actually made our customs vs. the ease of scrolling on the Amazon webpage, and we definitely did not have warehouses full of Halloween customs to walk through. My mom could never sew gladiator outfits with helmets and swords and certainly not a princess dress complete with a lighted skirt.
What I like most about Halloween, besides running around like a madman trying to fill my pillowcase full of candy, is the next day was the beginning of the 60 happiest days of the year, except when I was in high school and college. This brief period of school significantly diminished my cheer as holiday traditions were replaced with multiple all-nighters studying for semester-ending exams in December that would determine the course of my life. However, I did pass the exams, graduate, and since have renewed my joy of this time of the year. The holiday season is a memorable time because almost everything changes. After “hot August nights” of long sunny days, the next two months begin a period of colder, shorter, and darker days. Besides dramatic weather changes, the color scheme of reds and greens is dominant, the fragrance of apple cider and pumpkin spice, a fat guy in a red suit is seen everywhere, and even the music is different played only during this time of year. No other time of the year does such a transformation take place. Except for skimpy summer outfits and Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville music, the rest of the year is pretty much the same. For kids, this season is the nirvana of 60 days, with special events at the end of each month.
November is dominated by the planning and preparation for Thanksgiving. A great day of bringing family and friends together, rearranging the house to seat a house full of people, and fall decorations, and we end the day going to the movies as a family tradition to watch the newest release.
All of this is just the precursor to the main event, Christmas! It's game on for all retailers especially considering this year’s holiday sales are predicted to be mild or possibly an inflation-adjusted decline from 2021. As turkey leftovers are cooling in the refrigerator, retailers and marketing campaigns will be in full force. Early signs of the potential of holiday sales will be indicated by activity at stores on Black Friday and the internet on Black Monday. We learned to mitigate the anxiousness of holiday shopping by buying gifts throughout the year, which has allowed us to enjoy the season so much better. Our only anxiousness now is trying to remember where we hid the presents months earlier. Another key is getting the presents wrapped early. I can’t tell you how many Christmas nights we spent wrapping presents and assembling bikes or Playskool structures until the early hours of the morning. That was for our three kids, and now we have ten grandkids. We either learn or die.
The anticipation of getting presents is now replaced with the joy of watching others open our gifts to them. It’s a great time to express your love and appreciation. Ideally, this should be a time to complement a year of doing life together. Even if this year was not a great time for connecting with your friends and family, the holidays are a time of a “free pass” to reconnect and rebuild friendships. Take advantage of it because it only happens one time a year.
What Does This Mean to Me?
The past three years have each had unique challenges that have had a significant impact on people’s lives. In 2020 people struggled with isolation and restrictive government mandates that prohibited the most basic activities like walking in the park to critical needs of visiting loved ones in hospitals. The significant impact of government restrictions in 2020 set off a tsunami wave of worldwide disruptions and imbalances that include significant supply shortages, US labor shortages as people were paid not to work, and business dysfunction with more employees working from home than at the office. The Federal Reserve launched an aggressive rate hike campaign earlier this year to combat hyperinflation, the result of unprecedented billions of dollars handed out to nearly all Americans. The more the government distributed funds to people and companies, the faster inflation rose as too much money was chasing too few goods.
The “Inflation Protection Act” passed during the summer added another $800 billion into the economy, dwarfs the efforts of the Fed’s trying to slow spending. What the Federal Reserve does in the next several months will influence businesses and the stock market.
Our view is the imbalances will settle, and the billions will work their way through the economy. Federal Reserve presidents are already expressing concerns about pushing rates too high and the economy into a recession. The good news is that they are aware and speaking of this risk. The US economy, businesses, and the stock market have an amazing resiliency to recover from the worst of challenges. Never in the history of this free country have the values of companies declined and not recovered. Ironically, the challenge now is too much money in the system compared to the Great Recession and Great Depression of people and businesses with too few dollars to cover their mortgage, personal, and business debts. I would suggest that the former is a better situation to recover from than the latter.
It’s been a unique three years of challenges along with many benefits. Due to the stay-and-work-at-home mandates, people of all ages are experiencing more meaningful connections with each other through online video programs.
Seeing each other is so much more profound than a telephone call, just as the telephone greatly improved communication over letters. Businesses are more efficient with the option to travel or conduct a meeting via Zoom or Google Meets. There is no replacing in-person meetings. However, businesses have an option now to determine what events require significant time and money for personal attendance versus logging onto a Zoom meeting that only requires the time of the meeting and no expenses.
In the meantime, enjoy this holiday season. Ultimately, its relationships and traditions that build legacy and memories.
EMAIL ME about some of your memorable holiday experiences or family traditions. We will collect them and post some of them in future Briefs. We look forward to hearing about them.