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The Ghost of Christmas Past

Two years ago, on December 24, 2018, the S&P 500 closed at $2,351.10. The exact number isn’t particularly important, just know the index was down 20% from the high in late September of that year.

The drop in value seemed to accelerate as Christmas drew nigh, all capped off by the worst Christmas Eve single-day return of all time. 10% drops make reindeer pause. 20% drops make some of the less-stoic of Santa’s elves really lose their fruitcakes, if you know what I mean.

It goes without saying that this is history most of you remember all too well. I mean, a 20% drop!

What’s that, you say? You don’t recall the great polar plunge of 2018? You were too busy with holiday cheer, visiting friends and family, last minute shopping, eating too much, and generally making merry? You really need to get your priorities straightened out!

I’m just yanking your garland, of course. If you were guzzling nog, loitering under the mistletoe (I’m looking at you, Eric!), or watching A Christmas Carol rather than fretting about market returns, I think you may have had your stockings in a row, rather than your long johns in a bundle. There’s something about Christmas that makes us focus all our attentions on getting stuff done and then appreciate the rest of the time we have.

In December 2018, simply due to the happenstance of timing, hardly anybody noticed the market dropping as quickly as the mercury. That worked out fine, as the appropriate response for a long-term investor was to do nothing, as it usually is. Stocks bounced back like they had landed on Santa’s belly, and as I write this, the S&P 500 is up over 56% from that Christmas Eve of 24 months ago.

The point of this little Christmas reminiscence is that regardless of the time of year, it almost never makes sense to worry about what we can’t control, and market returns certainly fall in that category.

Naturally, there are aspects of investing that can be controlled, and if you’ve worked with us to ensure your investments are aligned with your priorities, we thank you. We’ve truly never been more humbled by our friends and clients than during 202…, I mean, the-year-that-must-not-be-named.

If your investments are waking you up at night like ghostly visitors, please reach out to, and “we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop!” Er…, sorry. I got carried away by the whole Dickens theme. Jonelle will help you schedule it a few days out and probably over Zoom.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “Don’t forget to read the compliance disclosures at the bottom.


Kyle Swan, CFP®

Securities and advisory services offered through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Mutual of Omaha Advisors is a division of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company.

Trading instructions sent via email will not be accepted. Please call (952) 888-2772 or Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc. at (800) 228-2499 for all buy or sell orders. Please note that communications regarding trades in your account are for informational purposes only. You should continue to rely on confirmations and statements received from the custodian(s) of your assets.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) is a market capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation to represent U.S. equity performance. Investment involves risks, including possible loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. It is not possible to directly invest in an index.


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