With all the predicted doom and gloom in the media, laughter has become a scarce item these days very much like sugar, one might say.
It's going to be more difficult to lift the holiday spirit. But the Malaysian sense of humour, no matter how controlled, must remain an essential item for all of us to get through the tough times.
So, it was a welcome change when I received several festive wishes with rib-tickling messages from friends in the banking and stock-broking sectors those hardest hit by the economic slowdown.
Here's a compilation of their new year resolutions which if followed, say these financial experts, will help us survive the depressing year.
Visit more friends this year just in case they need to borrow money. And confine visiting hours to lunch and dinner time.
Make loud attempts to pay the bill at restaurants but make it equally long to take out your wallet from your pocket. That, they insist, is prudent financial management and upholds the Asian value of sharing.
Go for lunch with your bosses, if you can. In following another important Asian tradition of “giving face,'' especially to your superiors, let them pick up the tab.
Keep sending flowers to loved ones during special occasions. Loyalty, after all, must be appreciated if your spouse is standing by you during economic hardship. However, it will be hibiscus this time instead of roses.
“Hibiscus, being the national flower, deserves a more prominent role now. It's also available free in many places,'' they note.
Despite what the politicians tell you about not buying fashion apparel with unpronounceable Italian or French names, it's okay to buy such items as long as the names are spelt the Malaysian way.
“Versagie, Armanee or Teg Hevey'' branded items are made by 100% Malaysian-owned stores in Petaling Street. Besides being politically-correct in this climate of austerity, we are helping the small and medium-size businesses which are still waiting for transfer of technology from foreigners.
Spend your vacation at home to stop the outflow of the ringgit. If you must go to a neighbouring country, the advice is “don't fly, it can be dangerous.''
Cut down on transport cost. Follow the example of those neighbours who come often to our country take a boat.
If you must travel overseas, make sure it's a company trip. Of course, make sure the accounts department provide you with enough greenback. And check the exchange rate when you return unused US dollars a small profit in forex trading will be additional income.
Prepare yourself for a new job, is another resolution by my financial wizard friends who confessed to losing a bundle in the stock market.
“But never, never give up your existing job. Wait to be retrenched and use your payments wisely. Go into the food business, it's all cash. Remember, you can owe your suppliers,'' they advised.
Eat local food. The nasi bungkus and chap fun, which the Malaysian yuppies had dumped for more Western choices, deserve a resurgence.
It's chic not cheap to take your girlfriend to the back lane of Jalan Tun Perak for a plate of prawn mee in true Malaysian ambience: the warm tropical night, the stars above, the stream of passing vehicles.
Finally, why drink Perrier water when the mineral water from Taiping is as good. Even the distilled water from Sentul is fine as long as it is clean.
Like all new year resolutions, it is always difficult keeping them. But under the present circumstances, it looks like we don't have much of a choice.
By the way, are you ready for lunch?