Woog's World: Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Congratulations! We got through Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t easy. College students returned home, carrying dirty laundry and possible COVID infections. Instagram showed not photos of multi-generation celebrations, two-ton turkeys and the Macy’s parade, but two or three people gamely grinning for the camera, barely leaving leftovers. Zooming was in; zoning out on the couch was out.

Of course, we reminded ourselves, things could be much worse. We had a meal. We had a roof over our heads. We had loved ones to Zoom with.

The next three weeks could be tougher. Thanksgiving is a sprint, but Christmas is a marathon. All month long we’re reminded that this is the hap-happiest season of all.

There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow. There’ll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing - you get the idea.

Except this year, there won’t be parties to host (or attend). Marshmallow-roasting and snow-caroling, if they happen at all, will be done with masks and appropriate social distance. As for mistletoe: When was the last time you kissed someone who wasn’t your spouse?

But Christmas 2020 need not be as cold as the North Pole. If we can attend school remotely, vote by mail and put Door Dash on speed dial, we can have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

For decades, I’ve bemoaned the commercialization of the holidays. This time, I’m embracing it. Merchants depend on December to make or break the year. This of course has been a year like no other. Around Westport, stores missed Easter, graduation, sidewalk sales, summer visitors and Halloween. Customers are not just sitting home; they’re ordering everything on Amazon. It’s a perfect storm, economic disaster-wise.

So if you’re comfortable, shop locally. Every owner keeps his or her store safe for customers. If you can’t go in person, shop online. It’s important, it’s easy, and it’s available 24/7. Many places offer same-day delivery; all will ship gifts anywhere. To find a list of Westport merchants (and hours and websites), go to FindingWestport.com, or “Westport Marketplace” via OurTownCrier.com.

Speaking of gifts, this year, broaden your list. In the eight months since COVID struck, many folks have gone way above and beyond, to make our lives at least tolerable. The CVS checkout person who soothingly helped when you were frazzled and she was working double shifts, despite worrying about bringing the virus home. The Aquafit or yoga instructor at the Y, whose daily classes you missed so much - and who then kept you sane, balanced and fit once the building opened back up. The Amazon, FedEx and UPS deliverers, whose tough, long days have made your life infinitely easier.

Expand your charitable giving too. Every non-profit in America was battered this year. They canceled fundraisers and galas - and as they replaced them with virtual events or hat-in-hand requests for donations, they realized many regular donors were struggling financially too.

Yet the need now is greater than ever. Human service organizations are besieged with requests. Arts groups, theaters, museums — all do everything they can to keep their doors open. Meanwhile, threats to our water, air and land are as real as ever. It’s easy to feel inundated by pleas for help. You can’t aid every group. But if you can assist a few more than in the past, now is the time.

If you miss traditional holiday parties — everyone’s welcome open houses, after-work get-togethers, your own annual affair too — well, caterers miss them even more. They’re the bread and butter of their professions, and now poof - like Frosty the Snowman - they’ve melted away.

Call your favorite caterer. Order a holiday meal, even just for you and the family. Give a cooking class as a gift. Book an event now for mid-2021.

It’s not just caterers who need help. All over town, restaurants wonder where their next meal is coming from. You won’t gather with the gang any time soon. But you can grab the kids and a blanket, and head to one of the many (heated!) outdoor tables. You can pick up a great meal curbside, or have it delivered to your door. And, as with caterers, gift cards are always in season.

It did not take Einstein to come up with these ideas. It does not take Santa Claus to execute them. All it takes is the realization that this scaled-down Christmas will not be the winter wonderland of song (and TV commercials).

Of course, it never is. But with a little planning, you too can have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Dan Woog is a Westport writer, and his “Woog's World” appears each Friday. He can be reached at dwoog@optonline.net. His personal blog is danwoog06880.com.