While traveling through my neighborhood this past weekend I noticed a number of my neighbors were beginning to decorate for the approaching holidays. I saw at least three already had lights adorning the exterior of their houses, and one had a Christmas tree lit in their front window. (Not to mention the one neighbor who still had a Halloween flag flying in front of their house.) I can’t help but have mixed feelings over the exuberant displays, both because of the acknowledgement of the upcoming festivities, and how much technology has impacted the observance of those holidays:
Christmas cards. Every year, we receive, and send, fewer and fewer greeting cards. While it is easier, and probably more environmentally conscious to do so, I can’t help but think ecards, and Facebook updates hardly replace the effort and thought required to select or make and send an old-fashioned greeting.
Shopping. Black Friday shopping has changed our lives forever. Instead of spending the day after Thanksgiving recovering from the “turkey coma,” many have made a tradition of rushing out early in the morning or sometimes even the evening of Thanksgiving itself to catch the best deals of the season. Luckily, the Internet has made this much easier in recent years. Instead of rushing out the door, it is much easier to find the perfect gift online, with a much larger selection and the best price. Also, I definitely don’t miss is the long lines at the store.
Gift-giving. I know the trend for many is to forego the ardors of finding the perfect gift for a hard-to-shop-for person, something many of those may actually prefer; to instead of a gift to purchase a gift card, available readily at any store or online. This trend is easier for the giver, but requires a lot less time and thought that makes gift-giving special meaning. It is especially convenient when you can send gift cards or gift certificates electronically to recipients to use online or print out at home, no stamp required. Still, I personally prefer to see the look on someone’s face when I can deliver the gift in person.
Decorating. Decorations are one facet of the holidays that some people take to the extreme. Whether you choose to go all natural with garlands and beribboned wreaths, or have multi-colored icicles hanging all year long, there are high tech gadgets that make things easier to do. Many of us have traded the scent of real pine for the convenience of pre-lit trees, which are definitely safer and less messy, and can be recycled year after year. I have my eye on a laser projector system this year that will allow us to light up the house with the appearance of falling snow or spinning circles, without having to pull out a ladder.
Food. We have more options available to us than ever before for our holiday feasts, from the most basic ingredients for time-honored recipes, to pre-prepared and convenient ready-to-eat meals, to food choices from cultures around the globe. Some of us truly lack the time or fortitude to prepare a complete holiday meal from scratch, and that makes convenience options a double blessing for entertaining, especially when you can order them online and simply pick them up or in some cases have them shipped. Whatever you choose to serve for your holiday, the value of the food should be secondary to those you are sharing it with.
Family. This year we will be doing something we don’t manage every year, and indeed haven’t done for quite some time on my side of the family-we will be going to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. So few of us are blessed to live close to extended family these days, as jobs, economic situations, and educational needs pull us farther and farther apart. Not to mention, travel costs and fears about safety of highways and airways keep many of us from venturing out to share the holidays with loved ones. Of course, thanks to modern tech like Skype, we still can “visit” with loved ones who are very far away.
No matter how we choose to celebrate the holidays, be it with old-fashioned traditions or new “high-tech” means, the most important part of any holiday is to celebrate in the spirit of the event the ones you call family, and the home of your hearts. I hope your holidays are bright and blessed wherever you are, or how you choose to observe them.