David Trinko: How the Internet saved Christmas

First Posted: 12/21/2013

During this festive time of year, you see a lot of tales on television about saving Christmas.

It’s apparently a perilous holiday. Rudolph saved it. So did the Whos in Whoville. Even Ernest took a turn at saving Christmas, know what I mean, Vern?

This year, I can’t help but notice how the Internet saved Christmas.

The worldwide information superhighway is doing its share in keeping joy to the world. It helps keep the magic alive with the assorted sites devoted to helping connect your child with Santa Claus, whether by letter or by video message. And what Christmas Eve would be complete without monitoring the Jolly Old Elf’s progress on noradsanta.org.

This year more than any other, the Internet is calling the shots on my family’s Christmas plans.

Pinterest is making a starring role when it comes to the food on our plates. My wife values the ability to “pin” recipes she likes to a special board. She looked through a half-dozen ham recipes before picking the one we’ll try on her family.

Same thing for cookies recipes. Why flip through all those cookbooks on the shelf for the five recipes you actually like when you can have Pinterest keep track of it instead?

We’ve found it just as helpful with our Elf of the Shelf. If you’re not familiar with these guys and gals, they fly back and forth to the North Pole each night to report to Santa Claus what the good boys and girls did during the day. They always fly back to a different place.

There are Web galleries devoted to cute ways these elves appear the following day. Some are a little saucy, like the elf with his arm around a Barbie doll in a makeshift hot tub. Fortunately, the worst our elf has done this year was get tangled up in some wrapping paper. A good elf is so hard to find.

Facebook can be a good resource too. It was pretty helpful this week, when we caught one of our daughters in one of the places we hide presents.

Unsure of a proper punishment (because I was never caught as a child doing that), I turned to my friends online for advice. They offered everything from making her personally return all her presents this year to donating the one present she loves most to just forgiving her, since the surprise of opening gifts is gone. On Wednesday, we’ll know for sure which approach we tried.

The Web’s obviously important for obtaining those gifts in the first place. A survey by Deloitte showed 47 percent of Americans said the Internet would be their favorite destination for holiday shopping this year, ahead of discount department stores. Only 37 percent preferred physical stores. I managed to escape the holiday crowds thanks to the power of online.

It’s just as valuable a tool for tracking those gifts on their way to your house. You never know if the retailer’s name will be emblazoned across the box, so the Internet helps you track items during shipping. My wife discovered one present stuck at a post office in Columbus for a week, prompting her to call the company for help.

When you’re wrapping those gifts, there’s nothing better than cranking up the holiday station on your streaming music site of choice to get into the spirit of the season.

I enjoy all these ways the Web made our lives easier. It should give us more free time on Christmas to spend time together as a family.

In reality, we’ll probably sit next to each other, playing online with our respective electronic devices. At least we’ll do it as one happy family.