I reckon technology helps us to get into the Christmas spirit. I don’t just mean that we get a lot of technology given to us as Christmas presents, although one of my earliest Christmas memories is the battle between me and my brother over the only television in our house one Christmas morning in the ’90s. In the blue corner was my brother with his new Nintendo Super NES and in the red corner was me with my shiny new VHS of The Jungle Book complete with holographic sticker to show it was legit. The NES won in the end as my brother is obviously the favourite child, or y’know, more realistically, because that was his one big present and I probably had a new doll I could play with instead.
We don’t often have those arguments any more as our houses are swimming with technological devices but no doubt millions of children across the world, and some of you guys reading this, will receive technological presents this year. However, I don’t think it’s the technology we receive that makes us feel Christmassy, I think it’s how we use it that gets us in the Christmas spirit.
Like a lot of events, half the fun of Christmas is the build up to it and the traditions rather than the actual presents we receive (though mum and dad, if you’re reading this, those are nice too) and I think that technology helps us do this in so many ways we may not realise. Lots of people have a Christmas film that they just have to watch with friends or family each year otherwise it doesn’t feel like Christmas. You simply must watch It’s A Wonderful Life, Home Alone or Elf at some point before 25th December, even though you’ve seen it a million times and know all the good bits as it just makes you feel all warm and Christmassy inside.
There are also the Christmas cards that come streaming through the letterbox that get you in that festive spirit. All those handwritten messages inside cards with carolers and snowmen on the front of them may not seem like the most technological of things, but the pens used to write them are a technology. And most of the addresses on these Christmas cards are “read” by machines, which then sort out where it needs to go, with “160 billion pieces of mail… moved through the system last year” according to the New York Times. So it’s thanks to technology that I get to read, so promptly after they’ve been sent, all those lovely and not at all cringeworthy family newsletters that people include with their cards “and this year Sandra was just so successful. She selflessly volunteered with sick emus for six months and then walked straight back into a fantastic job when she returned home….”
Technology also helps us gather together as families or friendship groups at this time of year. Millions of people will be journeying by cars, trains or planes to see loved ones this week with trips that would’ve taken months in the past now only taking a few hours or probably a day at the most. And for those people who can’t make it back home, there’s the wonder of Skype that lets you chat to people and even join in with a family game of charades on a three second time lapse if you fancy.
And I don’t think Christmas day could be Christmas day without the technology, I mean, I don’t even know where you’d begin cooking a turkey without an oven or would you just put it over the fire? I’ve never been camping so I’m not very knowledgeable about these sorts of things.
I don’t know what the Christmas Day TV schedule’s like where you live but over here in the UK the Queen likes to have a chat to us all at 3 o’clock about what she’s been up to this past year. Not everybody in the country watches it but for many it’s a tradition and Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Queenie having a good chinwag with us after lunch. One year her Christmas Message was so good that my Grandma fell off her chair, although it later turned out she’d actually fainted because of low blood pressure.
However, if your family does manage to stay upright, there is then the obligatory family photograph that’s instigated by the family photographer (usually your dad). You may pretend to hate sitting in an uncomfortable position with a fixed grin on your face whilst dad wants “just one more shot” after the impromptu bedsheet back drop falls on you but secretly you love it, or you know you’ll love the idea of it in the future when you’re older and thinking back on Christmases past.
So if you’re celebrating Christmas this year I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. What are your technological Christmas traditions that Crimbo time just wouldn’t be the same without?
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