Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanzaa. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Heck, Happy Winter Solstice.

Say any of it and I’ll say, ‘thank you.’ Whatever you’re celebrating, count me in.

I’ve often envied families with more interesting cultural influences than ours. That whole “Feast of the Seven Fishes” thing looks delicious as hell. Or the Mexican-American families who celebrate the Day of the Holy Innocents, by sitting around and telling jokes for 24 hours. Sign me up for that right now. And what kid doesn’t wish they got presents for eight days straight? 

Instead, the Dick family will observe our own milquetoast customs, our clockwork religious events, and our cliché, German-origin ham and scalloped potatoes. They’re not better traditions than yours. They just are.         

Did you know America’s Founding Fathers didn’t even observe Christmas? Yes, the same infallible men who authored the Second Amendment. A strict constitutionalist could argue that “Merry Christmas” is un-American.

But it’s not. At least not any more or less un-American than any of the other holidays or well-wishes. 

The term “melting pot” has a checkered history in our country. The idea that people of different cultures need to assimilate, to lose their identity, is grossly misguided. America, to be more accurate, is a stew, where a multitude of flavors blend, but the texture of each ingredient remains distinct. We’re at our best when our differences are combined, complementing each other, yet still intact.

Heading into what’s sure to be a doozy of an election year, our American stew will inevitably be deconstructed. The politicians and media outlets who benefit by dividing us will put us in separate piles on a plate, not unlike children who can’t stand when their food touches. Just like this metaphor that was taken a step too far, we’ll all be pining for it to be over.

I wish there were something we could do to prevent the madness. If only Santa went from rooftop to rooftop with a sleigh full of empathy – and perhaps a unifying presidential candidate or two while he’s at it.

Sadly, Santa is the most realistic part of that equation. 

But let’s worry about next year, next year. For now, let’s celebrate the most important things we have in common – however uniquely we celebrate them – our family, friends, food, revelry and relaxation, and anything you believe in that’s bigger than yourself. 

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll carry some of it into the new year. 

Have a warm and wonderful holiday, dear readers. See you in 2024. 

Here’s what we’re seeing: 

Consumer confidence fell just a hair over the past two weeks. After surging for a solid month, our Economic Sentiment Index cooled in its latest reading, as consumers might be anticipating a debt hangover coming after the holidays. Overall optimism for the U.S. economy fell the sharpest, followed by confidence in making major purchases. Outlook for the job market softened as well, as companies look to rein in costs going into 2024. Any economist who tells you they’re certain what’s going to happen next year is full of it.

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents do their gift shopping online for different reasons. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we discovered that political affiliation is a good predictor of why people buy their holiday gifts virtually. Rs are the most likely to be deal-hunting. Ds are just trying to save time. And Independents are the most likely to be avoiding crowds (of Rs and Ds, probably). We also found that people carrying student debt drive the Buy Now, Pay Later craze. And, in wholly unsurprising news, people who use a second device while watching TV (66% of us) are much less likely to be influenced by TV ads. Duh.

Fewer people will be binge-watching TV shows and movies over holiday break. Maybe it’s because we’re still in a post-writers’-strike content desert, or maybe people just have other plans – but the number of U.S. adults who expect to binge stream content over the holidays is down a full nine percentage points over this time last year. Those who are planning to binge are looking to watch shows and movies they haven’t seen before (unlike the Dick family, who will be doing a Harry Potter marathon, per usual), particularly comedies. Of note, Disney+ subscribers are the most likely to binge among other platform users – presumably with their kids.

Speaking of streaming, people are starting to cut back to save money. In what looks to be a new equilibrium, the percentage of Americans with four or more streaming subscriptions has fallen for the past six months, while the appeal of ad-supported services is on the rise (especially among Gen Xers and Boomers). More people are opting for bundles, too, reinforcing the long-held hypothesis that streaming will eventually look just like cable. If you missed our hugely attended 2024 Predictions webinar and want to soak in the warmth of my dulcet tones, check out the recording here. We expect increased streaming shrinkage next year – and likely industry consolidation (or attrition). 

American Airlines could save on fuel during the holiday travel season. Slightly more Americans (29%) plan to travel for the holidays this year, compared to last year (28%). For air travelers, American Airlines is the most popular carrier by a big margin (40%, versus 29% for United). But the most eye-catching stat from this study is the fact that a whopping 40% of expected holiday travelers identify as Ozempic or other GLP-1 drug users – versus just 14% of non-travelers. This whole thing is crazy.

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™:

The most popular questions this week:

What’s your favorite way of camping?

How often do you take creative liberties with a recipe?

End the debate: is ‘GIF’ pronounced with a hard ‘G’ (as in gift) or with a soft ‘G’ (like ‘jif’)?

Do you typically watch weekly release shows as they become available or wait to binge all at once?

Could you do a 10-minute stand-up comedy set at a moment’s notice?

Have you ever experienced a wardrobe malfunction?

Answer Key: Not camping; What’s a recipe?; Hard G; Weekly; Absolutely; Yes, some epic ones.

Hoping you’re well.


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