It is going to be a sunny Christmas, but unfortunately that can only be said of the weather.
There are no tidings of comfort or joy for nearly two million who are jobless, for hundreds of thousands who will be losing their jobs soon or for thousands facing ouster from their houses about to be repossessed.
All this plus the woes of retailers, flu ravaging the country and an icy cold start to winter has made some people wonder, will this be the grimmest Christmas in living memory.
For months now, ideas are being exchanged for a do-it-yourself Xmas — making cakes, preparing decorations, knitting scarves, designing cards, growing flowers in the kitchen garden, even making new furniture — to be able to enjoy the Noel in “credit crunchy” conditions.
The spirit of charity in this period has also drowned within empty pockets.
Charities have been forced to cut staff with donations falling sharply--money held by them is down by 13 per cent.
The New Year is not likely to usher anything brighter. It would mean the end of Woolworths, more redundancies in building, manufacturing, banks, pubs, restaurants and shops.
Wage cuts in the steel industry, short-time working and compulsory ‘holidays’ in car making.
High Street is hit by difficult trading conditions, the worst since 25 years. “They (customers) come, they see and then go away,” lament retailers. No wonder the Confederation of British Industry warned that shops are in a precarious position.
A record number of shops — 730 supermarkets — would be open round-the-clock until Christmas Eve in a desperate bid to survive.
Most have brought forward January sales — with savings up to 75 per cent — and will turn Britain into the “land of midnight sales.”
Such gloom is however countered quite a bit by the decorative street lightings at nearly every shopping area and the window displays at the likes of the Selfridges, defying the credit crunch.
The luminous glitter is helping create a festive and cheery atmosphere. And the people, determined to retain the Yuletide cheer, are keeping up the traditions.
Here and there oases have been created. Private get-togethers have begun; wine and cheese parties are flourishing. Office parties are in full swing. Most bankers have planned to sink into the caress of a world where thoughts of falling shares and diminishing profits are held at bay.
They are advised to sing the old carol: God rest ye merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay.