‘Tis the season.
But ‘tis the season, nonetheless.
Don’t worry. The rhyming was a coincidence. I’ll stop.
Repeat after me: We are not going to let COVID ruin the holidays.
COVID is not the Grinch. COVID is an asshole, for sure. But we deal with assholes all the time. We compartmentalize them. And we get on with our holly jolly business.
The Dick Family traditions all kicked off this week. The kids (and the dog) make straight for their Advent calendars every morning.
We started the dorky Fantasy Holiday Songs competition I told you about before. “The Christmas Song” and “Silver Bells” were drafted first, after leading the league last year.
Every speaker in our house and cars is tuned to Holiday Traditions on SiriusXM, 24/7. We’re an Andy Williams and Bing Crosby household. You can have your Mariah Carey, Michael Bublé, or other contemporary knockoffs. Not us.
We do a real tree, even though I’m allergic. Then I go through the ritual of throwing out strings of burnt-out lights that worked perfectly when I unplugged them last year, wishing I could meet Thomas Edison and punch him in the face.
When my dad died and my mom moved to Florida, my sister started doing Christmas with her in-laws. It’s just been the four of us ever since. For the first couple of years, we ordered Chinese food because we needed a little separation from our traditions that abruptly disappeared. Now, we’re back to doing the giant ham and the whole nine yards.
After Christmas, we hunker down in our pajamas for three days, run the popcorn maker on an endless loop, and watch all eight Harry Potter movies in an epic binge. Tara and I rip through a couple pitchers of mimosas for good measure.
Our family was built for a COVID lockdown. In normal times, we go so hard with work, travel, school, and extracurriculars that, by December, we quarantined before it was cool. We didn’t do a lot of parties, mall expeditions, or things in crowds anyway. We’ll dearly miss Christmas Eve service at church, but otherwise we won’t skip a beat this year.
I know things feel dark. They’ll likely only get darker in the weeks ahead.
I hope your traditions can shine some much-needed light on all that darkness.
If not, start new ones.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Consumer confidence continued tanking before Thanksgiving. I know that was an eternity ago but since I didn’t write last week, I thought it was worth mentioning. Our Economic Sentiment Index hit the lowest point we’ve seen since the end of July when the stimulus ran out. One glimmer of positive news is that consumers seem to be less concerned about the impact of tariffs on their household expenses since the election. The next six weeks will be a tremendous macro-economic theater. Get your popcorn ready.
Lockdowns are a red herring. How’s that for a loaded statement? Let me explain. We’ve said from the beginning that consumers – not the government – will have all the power when it comes to the ups and downs of COVID. Each of us makes a personal calculation, weighing our desire for normalcy against our desire for safety. It doesn’t matter what we’re allowed to do (or not). If you want proof, see the chart below. Even as many restaurants and bars around the country spent months restricted to 50% or even 25% capacity, barely 1 in 10 Americans were ever prevented from patronizing one of them because of it – and the vast majority of them were under 30. You could certainly conclude that capacity limits are barely hurting the hospitality industry. Or, you could equally say they aren’t making enough of a difference to even be necessary. Up to you.
Interest in the NFL keeps sliding, even as streaming is showing some signs of hope. The Humane Society would take exception to what I’m doing to this horse, but the NFL isn’t in a great place right now. It certainly hasn’t helped that most of the big market teams (hello, NFC East) royally suck. But the percentage of NFL fans who say they follow the league “very closely” has hit the lowest number we’ve ever seen at this point in the season. One interesting note, however, is how much better Hulu is doing at attracting NFL fans, relative to the other streaming platforms. Read about it for yourself.
Tech gifts are going to crush it this holiday season. A mind-blowing two-thirds of Americans say they are going to purchase at least one tech product as a gift for someone this holiday season. Video game consoles and home computers top our collective wishlist, because we all expect to be stuck at home for the foreseeable future. Fellas, if you’re struggling to figure out a good gift for a significant lady in your life, she’s more likely than you to want a tablet, fitness tracker, or wireless speaker. Thank me later.
A few other studies we did since I last wrote:
- Speaking of video games, Logitech leads the third-party accessory market among gamers in a big way.
- The pandemic surge of exercise seems to be subsiding. Glad I’m not the only one.
- Nine months into the pandemic, remote workers still aren’t happy with their at-home work stations.
- Don’t buy any women in your life an at-home COVID testing kit because they don’t trust them.
- Games and puzzles are the biggest likely winners in the toys category this year, but educational toys are up there.
- Only 40% of Americans send holiday greeting cards, but judging by how many we have covering our walls by Christmas, I would have bet the over.
Oh, and you probably can’t go wrong getting someone a mask or two for their stocking. Here are the most popular types, depending on how cautious you are:
Finally, do your homework before buying someone that ugly sweater or socks for Christmas. Twenty-nine percent of people say they like getting novelty clothes as a holiday gift – which means most people don’t. Socks are a safer bet. If you want to be on-trend this year, there are a bunch of specialty sock brands – Pair of Thieves tops among men and Bombas among women – you should check out. Just keep it simple because the majority of people like solid colors.
These were our most popular questions since Thanksgiving:
- Which of the following popular takeout options holds up the *least* well during the time that passes between packaging it to go and eating it?
- Are you currently in possession of any overdue library books?
- When was the last time you mailed someone a letter?
- Which of these classic tabletop games is the most fun?
- Would you rather cook or clean up?
- Do you sleep on the right or left side of the bed?
Hoping you’re well.