The Christmas Hearth, Circa 2011

Managed to survive another Christmas season, mostly by lowering expectations of myself so far, nobody was too disappointed. Part of the problem came with a big move from New England to the Mid-Atlantic, leaving some parts of the Christmas traditions behind. Some boxes of ornaments and doo-dads were simply not found. And boxes of any type were absent – as were bows, ribbon and wrapping paper (which may have been good – we had used it over and over and over in recent years).

The establishment of mass, multi-emailed want lists made it easier to get just the right gifts that recipients actually wanted. Some provided direct links to the actual thing desired. That made gift giving more accurate but also a little boring. Had to sneak over to the local dollar store to get the kind of unexpected junk that helps make the holiday.

Online shopping dominated because it was so easy especially for those coming from out of town. They’d order something for delivery here, arrive and wrap in time for the holiday. The only hauling they’d have to do was for their own gifts back home.

A nice fire is usually in the offing on Christmas, but the chimney sweep had delivered the bad news about undetected earthquake damage (that occurred a week after we took ownership) and thousands of dollars of necessary repairs that were needed first.

Instead a new flickering hearth light was seen around the tree – laptops, phones and iPads. Everybody already had them, and the travelers came with them. At certain points on the lazy holiday afternoon, everybody’s face was in the glow of his or her own screen, keeping up with the Facebook greetings or the errant work emails.

We were all together but all apart in our way. Which would also have happened if we were all in our own books, which also happened. But the screens made it weird. I was impressed for example how our one router could supply all  that wifi. It may have been the underlying gift of the season: The Wifi of the Magi.

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