Much to my family’s consternation, I’ve never been a big fan of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. To me, they’re exorbitantly expensive and stressed-filled propositions. I refuse to help decorate the tree and the lone reason I hang the Christmas lights, is I’m the only one in my family not afflicted with acrophobia once I pass the second step of a ladder.

I’ve often watched my spouse fall just short of a nervous breakdown because she has no idea what to serve the 20 or so people planning to descend upon our house for Christmas dinner. Or remain up until 2 a.m. wrapping gifts. But ever the eternal optimist, she continually reminds me that this is the season to be jolly.

Not!

Now please don’t send me hate mail, as I’ve received enough verbal abuse and incredulous looks from my family and friends to last a lifetime each time I make a disparaging remark about the holidays.

This also is usually the time many pundits and psychics begin spouting their predictions for the New Year — from which celebrities will get married/divorced, to who will win the Super Bowl.

Now no one has ever confused me with the Amazing Kreskin, but as we enter 2004, I’ll go on record saying that this year will bring the quantum change to the profession, as well as the capital markets, that began toward the end of 2003.

A few other prognostications:

• The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board will be forced to make an example of some firm.

• The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board will hit several unexpected stumbling blocks on the road to standards convergence.

• There will be a host more CPA firm mergers particularly on the super-regional level.

• Big Four firm Deloitte will re-evaluate the strategy of keeping its consulting arm.

• Vendors hawking Sarbanes-Oxley compliance products will begin proliferating like class-action lawyers at an accident site.

• PwC and Ernst & Young will maintain better controls on client-related travel expenses.

• The Internal Revenue Service unfortunately, will still fall far short of their targeted e-filing initiatives.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Happy Holidays and all the best in 2004.

Anyone for New Year’s resolutions?

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