I’m not the kind of parent who likes the “kid crying on Santa’s lap” photo and I certainly don’t relish the thought of waiting on a long line at the mall to see Santa Claus, whether my daughter decides she hates him or he’s her best buddy. Then I discovered some technological alternatives to the dreaded mall trip and I am intrigued enough to try one or all of them. Hey, if the guy can fly through the air and drop gifts to millions of children in one night, it's about time he had some internet exposure.
A friend sent me a Santa website where you can input specific information about your child (but not too specific), including your child’s name, age, how they’ve been good this year & that special gift they’re craving this season. Then you receive an email with a link to a video greeting from St. Nick himself. It’s free, it can be tailored to each child and it’s quick and easy to set up. My husband and I thought it was great. I got the email after my daughter's bedtime so she hasn't seen it yet, but I think she might prefer it to a face-to-face meeting.
I also learned of another site called VisitSantaOnline, which allows children & parents to see Santa live for free. For a donation (a portion goes to Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital), Santa can also hear and see you and your kids.
NORAD Tracks Santa has been in the business for many years of allowing children to track Santa's Christmas Eve flight on television but they have a website as well where kids can watch videos, visit Santa's Village and, of course, watch him in action on December 24th.
There are lots of places to bump into Santa in New Jersey this holiday season - including charity events - so we might still try the traditional route.
But I wonder how much my parents would’ve loved being able to just plop us in front of the computer to say hi to Santa. No big photo opportunity, but no crying either.
Originally Published By Sandra K. Lee on December 15, 2009 on the New Jersey Mom's Blog.
With Thanksgiving almost upon us it’s just about time to think of the next thing, sending out the holiday greeting cards. Holiday greeting cards have always been special for me as I felt they were a great way to re-connect with friends and family, especially those living outside of New Jersey. But over the years I’ve noticed that most of my family and friends don’t feel the same way. The photo card, mostly of someone’s kid, sometimes of the whole family, seems to be the most popular choice. Then there are the general “season’s greetings” cards or my favorite, the funny, smart-aleck ones. I don’t care about the type of card, but it saddens me that most of these cards don’t come with any personal message, just a pre-printed message and the family name and sometimes a signature.
A step above this has been the more popular holiday form letter that is sent to everyone. At least in this case you might find out about what’s been going on in someone’s life if you haven’t been able to see them too often during the year, but it’s not as personal because it’s addressed to you and the dozens of other people on their mailing list.
Now I know how hard it is to write a personal note to each person. I’ve been doing it every year in shifts to keep my hand from permanently seizing. I did it the year I moved into a new house with my then-fiance, I hand-wrote every card when I was pregnant and when my daughter was a toddler. I’m a busy person ,too, but I did it because I didn’t want to just sign my name to a card without sharing a part of my thoughts and experiences that year with people I cared about. I also felt that it was one way to slow down during the holidays and really take a little time to send a meaningful note to each person. Over the years I have to admit it’s been frustrating to not get something similar in return from a growing number of people. It seems particularly disheartening when I send the card first and simply receive a generic card in response with just a signature. Did they get my card yet? Were they really so busy they couldn’t write more than more than just their names?
Then I started to wonder whether people actually enjoyed getting these holiday anecdotes from me or if they really preferred to just get a simple card with a cute photo as everyone else seems to favor.
I really wanted to continue my personal tradition this year but frankly, the experience has been tainted a little about my frustrations and expectations. I feel the holidays are about giving, yes, but also enjoying yourself, so I’ve decided not to send handwritten cards this season and will be mailing a photo card with a typed holiday letter. However, I can’t give up entirely on the personal touch and I’m still ambivalent about the switch so even though it will be typed, my letter will still be tailored to each person. I also hope my preschooler will help me decorate the envelopes for close family and friends.
I think this will enable me to enjoy sending Season’s Greetings once again and be okay with the fact that most of the cards I received will be simply “greetings.”
Originally Published By Sandra K. Lee November 23, 2009 on the New Jersey Mom's Blog.
Sandra K. Lee