It's beginning to look a lot like virtual Christmas

Thursday 10th September, 2020

You read the title, and I know what you're thinking.

Yes, I agree, it is too soon. The sun still shines. The birds haven't even started packing for the journey south. And rumor has it Santa is taking a vacation in Ibiza.

But that doesn't mean you can't start preparing - adding one or two or three bullet points onto your wishlist - maybe thinking about how the Christmas lights will hang, and plotting your plan to finally put on a better show then your neighbor who obtained actual reindeer and a 24/7 street busker with a bushy beard to hang out on their roof for three weeks.

However you celebrate, now's the time to start. Things to Get Me's online wish list tool is great place to do just that. Create a list, totally free of charge, and start adding ideas as they come in. 

But, you say, what about... you know... the whole... everything...

Yes, it that shall not be named because you've heard to much about it already.  While Santa may have to put on a mask and wipe down every chimney he touches, I believe we'll have a Christmas. It will look different.  For better or worse, the whole family - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, pets, second cousins, Rachel from accounting, and that guy you met during freshman year orientation at State University in '94 - won't be attending.

Gatherings will be small and intimate, and half of all gifts will arrive from an assortment of groups contracted by HoHoHo Inc, namely Amazon, UPS, and FedEx.

So what does this mean for you?

Going Virtual (for the hundredth time)

It's the hottest thing since sliced bread: putting the word virtual in front of every activity known. Virtual meetings, virtual classes, virtual cabarets, virtual square-dance festivals, you name it.

With the ubiquity of video streaming tools, it should be no surprise that a virtual Christmas meet-up could be added to your Christmas itinerary.  This could be unwrapping presents on Zoom, or setting up a monitor at the head of the dinner table and pretending to shovel mashed potatoes into each of the tiny faces on the screen.

The current trend in society is to create an online platform for every in-person activity.  Like some Issac Asimov novel, we're slowly separating from the physical reality until we all become spirits within sentient machines.  The revolution is beginning.

But before that glorious day comes, we'll have to deal with the intermediary period of this strange human experience.  How do we maintain the intimacy of face-to-face gatherings, and in turn maintain the spirit of the holidays, while apart?

Keeping Christmas Personal

Gift giving, as always, is a fantastic way to maintain those important relationships (just don't ask my ex).  Online wishlists and shipper's gift-wrapping option can solve this problem on a surface level, delivering the desired effect of joy, but how do you make it personable?  More than just a gift, but personally gifting the gift?

A thoughtful letter, of course, can add that all important element of personality to a gift.  But how can you accomplish this when ordering online?  If you send the letter separately there's no guarantee when it will arrive.

My first solution, send a letter within an envelope within an envelope. The outer envelope should be post marked as usual, but the inner envelope should be a little more conspicuous.  In big bold lettering, it should read: DO NOT OPEN UNTIL DECEMBER 25.  You could also hint at the gift they'll receive: I hope you like soft and fluffy things.  Things that keep you warm on a cold night.  Furry things.  And just when they think they're getting a puppy, they open up your gift and find another pair of socks.  Thanks grandma.

But in all seriousness, this Christmas will be all about creating presence, not presents.  Any means of adding personality to your gifting will go a long way.  Making sure the gift means something is a good first step (something a free, online, wish-list would help out a lot *cough*cough*nudge*nudge*).

Another question you can ask is, can I personalize the gift itself?  If a relative puts a new cookware set on their list, could you also send them the ingredients for your famous shoofly pie?  Little thoughts like that could add some semblance of the human touch we'll be missing this holiday season.  It's also a good thing to keep in mind when creating your own wishlist.  What gifts will bring you joy, but also bring distant people into your life?

Maybe, the only thing you really need on your Christmas list is a horrendous pair of socks from Grandmom, because they're the one thing that remind you of her.

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