You might not immediately associate cars with Christmas, but how else do you visit malls and other stores? Driving home has become a tradition. In some cases, we’re driving home from a tree stand with the corps of a perfectly good conifer shedding needles all over your interior of affixing pitch to your roof. In other cases, it’s the dreaded winter road trip to Nana and Pops. The drive there is hallmarked by your children brimming with the excitement of presents you hope you got right. The drive home is equally invigorating as your kids have just ingested a year’s worth of sugar.
There will be 100 million cars on the road this Christmas, according to Reuters. But will this number be the same next Christmas? Shopping on eBay and Amazon might damage the tradition of shopping on the Mall and Skyping your relatives may soon replace driving home. And Christmas traditions are the ones we least like to change.
Sure there are good reasons not to travel at this time of year, but let’s face it, most of our favorite holiday traditions are inseparable from a degree of misery. We certainly need the company of family and even the sociability of shopping in the Mall (though it might not feel like that at the time.) The key to success here is remembering where the car was parked.
Some cars might be less suitable for shopping than others. You’re going to need a car with a fairly large trunk. The same thing applies for driving to and from the relatives. The key to success is when you should pack the car. It’s a good idea to pack the car the night before to save you dealing with the darkness. (I know most of us to forget and struggle out with heavy loads in the darkness.) Another trick is to take regular breaks during a long journey and bring some food and coffee to sustain you.
Another tradition that people have, though it is by no means widespread, is traveling to your nearest and dearest delivering cards and wishing them season’s greetings in person. E-mail and text message are a poor substitute. Sure you’ll catch some folks off guard but if it’s someone you only get to see once a year then do it personally? They will be glad to see you.
There are two good reasons you might want to take an Uber or taxi to and from your Christmas parties. Of course the first is if you’re intending to drink. (Let’s face it you’ll be stuck around your family all evening—your going to drink.) The second little bonus is that your family can actually track your approach or verify that you’ve made it home. See there’s one upside to the modern age.
Another new technology you might incorporate is using an Alexa, or similar device, to come up with a playlist to keep you busy on the journey. Be sure to include songs for you as well as the kids. It reduces stress if you do this sort of things beforehand.
One technology we’re not recommending? There are new devices being advertised this year, that simplify the use of video conferencing so that it’s easier for seniors. To this, we say, “roads converge for a reason and that is surely so we can meet up.” Skype is hardly the same thing. Contrary to the commercials out there, anyone over forty can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone over Skype.
Seniors merely pretend to like Skype conversation, something just doesn’t feel right. And how is a Skype visitor going to eat Christmas dinner or unwrap presents? It’s a bit of a confusing “visitor”, all-in-all.
We’ll stop short of calling it a piece of technology we don’t really need. If you want to give that device at for Christmas so your family can engage more richly and more often than they have been, great! But it’s not going to replace a visit for Christmas.
So, why shouldn’t you get your car out of the garage this time of year? Well, obviously do not drink and drive. But in general, Christmas celebrates the spirit of giving in the middle of dismal winter. It’s the inextricable paradox of giving when it hurts. Christmas traditions remind us that hard work and fun are married and the people in our lives are the presents we really want.