Crossing the busy main road on my way to work, I spot a vagrant wearing a Christmas necktie rooting around in a trash can on the corner. It's bright red and decorated with smiling snowmen, dangling amid the heaps of Starbucks cups and discarded styrofoam as the vagrant goes about his grimy business.
Did he choose this festive accessory himself? A shrewd attempt, maybe, to garner sympathy and goodwill from the crowds of Christmas shoppers when he switches to the surely more profitable pursuit of begging for spare change.
I chide myself for unseasonal cynicism. But, truth be told, I'm more worried that such characters might actually turn out to be my very own Jacob Marley; that guy from accounting we fired six years ago, perhaps, returned from the professional grave with a gloomy Yuletide message of impending unemployment unless I change my ways.
Chastened and, I admit, just a little bit concerned for my future welfare, I reached for a dollar from my wallet, only to remember I very rarely carry cash these days. A sign of these debit card times for mendicants, Salvation Armies, and their potential benefactors alike.
But as the vagrant was wearing a Christmas tie rather than phantom chains and manacles, I consoled my frustrated altruism with the thought that he was probably more Santa's elf gone-to-seed than Dickensian harbinger of doom.
Nevertheless, there and then I decided to keep a few coins and bills about my person for just such charitable occasions; and that would be my New Years' resolution for 2017, provided, of course, that I didn't lose my job by early February.