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That Christmas feeling

Published December 02. 2019 09:53PM

I went online to Amazon the other day to check out some stuff for Christmas and realized something was missing. Yes, I knew what I was looking for, had the money and even found what I wanted, but still, there was something definitely missing.

Sitting there in front of that computer screen, it didn’t feel like Christmas.

It had nothing to do with it still being pre-Thanksgiving November. It had to do with a slew of other things that make Christmas shopping a part of the holiday and add to the spirit of this time of year.

Online shopping has been a godsend for many of us for a variety of reasons.

Foremost among those reasons, it’s convenient. You can shop at any time of day or night. You can squeeze some in while waiting for your son’s wrestling practice to end or during your lunch hour, and with the monster-mall that is Amazon, often find what you are looking for without having to visit even more than one “store.”

Not only is this a savings of time, but, with deals that are often available online, including free shipping, you might find it more affordable as well. And saving time and money, especially around the holidays, is nothing to sneeze at.

Despite these potential advantages, I wasn’t sure they made up for what I was missing as I sat there in front of that computer screen. There was no Christmas atmosphere.

I found myself missing the music, decorations and displays that come with going shopping at a mall or downtown store.

When I think of Christmas, those things are parts of the culture of that holiday that have been burned into my memory, and I’ll bet into yours, too. Those things help you feel Christmas.

Also missing was the social experience shopping in person often brings. How many of us turn Christmas shopping into a social occasion with family members or friends? I’ll bet most of us do. I was missing out on that.

I was also missing the crowds of other shoppers. Yes, I know crowds can be frustrating to navigate, but shopping among them adds a sense of community to the holiday.

There’s a shared experience, and we need shared experiences to help keep us connected. In those crowds are our friends, relatives and neighbors, many of whom we haven’t seen for a while and the holiday gives us the chance to reconnect with them.

On that computer at my kitchen table there was no one to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to. Not even a cashier. (I tried it on the dog, but he didn’t seem to care.)

It just wasn’t the same. The family, friends, crowds and community we connect with are other ways we feel Christmas.

I also found that I was missing the tactile part of shopping. There is something special about holding a gift in your hand — again, it makes you feel — compared to clicking a button to buy.

It’s also the process that makes finding the perfect gift even sweeter — the looking through various stores … the mileage you put on your car and on your feet, so when you finally find it, you feel it.

I was missing all the things that make me feel Christmas, and is there anything better than that feeling?

What can we do in this digital age to keep that feeling alive?

I’m not about to tell anyone they should stop shopping online. We’ve gone too far down that rabbit hole for that, plus you can’t deny the advantages that exist.

My advice, though, is before you sit down in front of that computer screen, throw on a favorite Christmas video and/or play some Christmas music while you shop. Create the feeling if you can’t go out and find it.

But try to find it if you can. Take your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to the mall or downtown area for Christmas this year — even just once — to let them soak it in. Most especially, take the little guys.

Give them a feel for the kind of holiday shopping you have known for most of your life. As online shopping consumes more and more of the market for gifts, such scenes may not last forever.

Here’s hoping the memories of them never dies so we can all continue to experience and feel the wonderful community and traditions of Christmas.

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