City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there's a feeling of Christmas . . . and above all this bustle you hear. . . .

Talk of recession, depression, slumps and meaningful downturns has gotten out of hand. Why, times just couldn't be as bad as some are saying they are, at least not for Utah County.My basis for this conclusion is the large crowds out shopping last Saturday.

After stopping at the University Mall to wait in line for lunch at ZCMI's Tiffin Room, Mom and I decided to hit the more out-of-the-way areas to do some shopping. We hopped in the car, headed south on I-15 to University Avenue and K mart.

To get to K mart we had to pass Price Savers, Sizzler, Payless Shoes, Deseret Book and the ZCMI II store. I thought for sure these stores in the East Bay area of Provo would be a little less cluttered.

No such luck.

For the first time since the day after Thanksgiving, I felt the thrill of the Christmas rush - the push and shove of people passing. On just about every street corner you could hear not silvers bells but honking horns.

In the air there's definitely a feeling of Christmas. In fact I heard children laughing in the electronics department at ShopKo, but that was only after being chased away from the Nintendo display for the fourth time. And some of the only smiles I met were from some LDS missionaries who said "hola" in passing. I'm sure they were just practicing their street approaches.

I have come to the conclusion that Santa's big scene isn't in the toy shop at the North Pole but in the mall.

Perhaps local economists have an answer for this recession hubbub, but I don't buy it. Unless, of course, these masses of people are just window shopping.

Here are some theories on why the late shopping:

- Some people just decided, "To heck with the recession - full speed ahead."

- Some have finally come out of their earthquake-converted bomb shelters facing the fact the Iben Browning has a few faults of his own.

- Some have been enticed to shop 'til they drop by price tags that have been given an unusual pre-Christmas slash.

- Some have decided to buy as many presents as in years past, just less expensive ones.

- Yet others are confident the local high-technology industries, which shall remain nameless, really are going to give out Christmas bonuses.

Whatever the reason, at least for one holiday shopping weekend in Utah County no one could either hear the silver bells above the kids bunching or see sidewalks dressed in holiday style for all the shoppers rushing home with their treasures.

Perhaps the most comforting thing about Christmastime in the city is that soon it will be Christmas Day - whew!