My completely unscientific method began some years ago when Mr. Recession came to San Diego. It's a little embarrassing, but I and the cool English teacher down the row were taking off for Christmas break and, comparing notes, we found that neither had received as many gifts--most notably, fewer Starbucks cards--as usual. Parents are very generous and supportive of us and our school, and I have even had to call one with the intent to return a gift (per our ethics department and my conscience): a Coach purse. (The parent laughed and said if I knew the deep discount she got at the outlet, I'd never have called.) So both of us noticed the precipitous decline from eighty dollars' worth (I know! Blessings!) to one five dollar card. It's embarrassing to notice, but unmistakeable. And donations of toys for our local firefighters to help needy children declined. And donations for items for our school's silent auction dried up, too. Kids didn't mob the Krispy Kreme fundraisers, either.
Now the love remained unchanging: handwritten cards, heartfelt notes--the very best gifts of all; tons of homemade goods, exotic candy canes. Mr. Recession, like the Grinch, could not stop Christmas from coming.
But this year is different, and now you know: six gift cards (about sixty dollars' worth) tell me more than economic analysts. Mr. Recession is packing his bags.