holidays 2020 expectation vs reality

Daily Dot

Holidays 2020: Expectations vs. reality

A lot will be different this year, but holiday shopping doesn’t have to be.


Jaime Carrillo

Dot Recs

Posted on Dec 17, 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Mariah Carey is blasting on Spotify, there’s a Rankin Bass marathon on TV, and the entire house reeks of gingerbread. And while having family over for a roast beast dinner is about as risky as doing pirouettes on thin ice right now, the holiday season can still be merry—as long as you keep your expectations grounded.

Zoom gatherings 

Expectations: To follow all social distancing guidelines, many families are gathering via Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, and countless other video messaging platforms. The same familial magic everyone is used to can still be had over wi-fi, whether it’s catching up with the folks, tossing back a few eggnogs, or watching Home Alone together. 

Reality: Face it, half the time spent trying to talk to family will likely be spent doing tech support for the less-than-savvy folks in the clan. After all, work meetings are riddled with glitches. Why would a family gathering be any better? Even Bob Clearmountain couldn’t equalize the cacophony of aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents all barking at once. 


Expectations: The song says, “Deck the halls!” And deck the halls, you must. The vinyl decorations your family has owned since the Beegees had a number one radio hit get dragged out of the garage and plopped on the lawn. Lights get strewn on the door, the roof, the BBQ pit–basically anywhere there’s an outlet nearby. Don’t forget to take a picture for the ‘gram to catalogue your Martha Stewart-like skills. 

Reality: Being at home all the time is oddly draining. And besides, who are you even decorating for? Nobody is coming over anyway, so why even dedicate the energy to breaking out the tinsel? Throw a prelit tree in the room and call it a day.

Baking cookies

Expectations: Not even all the Keebler elves in the world can out-bake mom. Her recipes aren’t just fantastic, they’re time tested. A batch of her special holiday cookies are just the ticket to bring some of that warmth to your home while following social distancing guidelines.

Reality: It would likely be easier to have your mom give you her social security number than ever getting her to write down the cookie recipe she knows from scratch. Sure, she’s happy to share it. But don’t expect her to give it to you in a nice, tight format. Don’t ask her to photograph it, you’re just going to get an awkward front-facing selfie. Maybe this year, just settle for the block of Tollhouse.

Holiday cheer

Expectations: A wise sage once said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” And who doesn’t love spreading that cheer door to door with a popular number composed by songsmiths like Irving Berlin or Ariana Grande? Sure, they’re technically trespassing, but they’ve got a song in their heart and they’re willing to share it for a few moments on your lawn.

Reality: If you open the door to carolers this year, good cheer won’t be the only thing spreading. Sure, you can mask up and the singers can belt out from the sidewalk. But at this point, if they’re out and about and risking it all just to croon “Jingle Bells,” don’t expect to hear the words muffled through face shields and masks.

Last-minute shopping

Expectations: You waited until the last minute, again. You still haven’t gotten a gift for those nearest and dearest to you. Luckily, you don’t have to brave the holiday hordes or the post office just to nab something special for everyone on your list. 

Simply hop online, and let Sam’s Club do all the shopping for you. Shoppers can use Sam’s Club’s Pickup service through Dec 23 for last-minute gifts. After checkout, just pull up to the curb, and a masked up employee will load your trunk with presents or the makings of a holiday feast for one. 

Reality: Unlike every other holiday tradition this year, expect this reality to live up to expectations. Sure, every other pastime may be weird, but at least getting your holiday shopping done at Sam’s Club will be as easy as every other year. 

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*First Published: Dec 17, 2020, 1:00 pm CST