Michael Corkery.

Pictures of Philip Chung, Sylvia Jarrus, Dina Litovska and Tristan Spinsky

December 2020

Every year, as I brave the hustle and bustle and the crowded parking lots of the shopping malls, I swear to myself that the next holiday season will be different: I spend less time running around and more time with my family. And yet one of these holidays seems to merge with the next, as an annual form of amnesia caused by the sweet smell of freshly cut Christmas trees.

But this year, that wish could come true. As in A Wonderful Life, where George Bailey fulfils his wish never to be born, the coronavirus pandemic gives us a holiday period in which many of our hectic traditions have been interrupted.

Office parties are cancelled. Shops work according to a reduced schedule and with fewer staff. The tables in the restaurant are wrapped in police tape. It is estimated that there were 50% fewer people in the shops on Black Friday than in 2019. During the holidays, the artists of Santa Claus who are in the shops do not hang child wish lists. Hark, are the Herald Angels singing? Not this year. The C.D.C. has advised not to sing at holiday meetings. In fact, the agency would prefer it if we didn’t meet at all.

For many people, holidays are synonymous with fun and surprise with colourful lighting and special gifts. But the sight of Santa Claus wearing a surgical mask immediately brings you back to reality.

Last week I visited the shop in the Midtown Museum of Contemporary Art, a place where it’s usually busy with customers. But I was one of the few customers. Part of me liked to take my time and not be claustrophobic about all the bags. The optimistic sales staff were not disappointed. But even after I found what I wanted, I didn’t dare.

It was a reminder that no one likes a shop that is almost empty two weeks before Christmas.

Figure http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Silent-Night-Scenes-of-a-Pandemic-Christmas.jpg

in connection with Philip Cheung’s credit report for the New York Times…

Of course, consumerism is still very much alive. The National Retail Federation predicts that Christmas sales could rise more this year than in 2019, despite widespread unemployment and a new wave of deadly infections.

But many other purchases are made online. It is estimated that three billion parcels will be posted this season, about 10 for every man, woman and child in the United States. This means an increase of 800 million dollars compared to last year, according to ShipMatrix, a technology supplier for the shipping industry.

E-commerce has proven to be safe – two of the most important features during a pandemic. But also a little loneliness.

If the vaccination is successful, life will become much more normal in many public places in December. It will be safer again to gather in places of worship, restaurants and along parade routes.

in connection with Philip Cheung’s credit report for the New York Times…

But even as health risks decrease, fewer and fewer people will go to the shops now that online shopping has really taken off. Many shops that close during the closure period will remain closed.

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