Yes, it really is that time of year again. For many of us the season means withdrawal: less game time, less computer time, less iPod time. And even though it’s getting harder and harder to get disconnected from the virtual world, still, geek-less living can be hard on any of us.
So why not Geekify the holiday season with your family? Here are a few ways that, with proper application, can add a certain joie de geek to the festivities around you.
- Turn dinner into a science and/or history lesson. Thanks to the patron saint of all things kitchen geek, Alton Brown, and the fact that the Internet is everywhere, we now have access to the history and tradition behind many of our favorite holiday dishes. We take for granted the regular fare, but how about starting off dinner conversation by detailing the history of Christmas puddings, which have been commonly consumed in England since the early 15th century? Or how about a brief discussion about the mis-naming of the turkey by European settlers? Not a history buff? How about the little-known fact that cranberries are, in fact, evergreens. My personal favorite is informing my loving family about past recipes. The most effective is usually the live roast goose (not for the faint of heart, or PETA activists).
- Indoctrinate, er, share your geeky interests with an unknowing—I mean, uninformed younger relative. A great deal of my own geekery comes from older cousins and relatives who wanted to share their own geeky interests with me when I was a kid. The first time I saw Star Wars, for instance, was right around the holidays. It’s safe to say I’ve never quite been the same. Instead of being forced to watch games or hackneyed old holiday films, see if you can’t arrange a showing of Blade Runner or the original Star Wars films; if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, consider The Lord of the Rings or Battlestar Galactica. Portability plus: if you can’t get access to the main TV, there’s always streaming media to your laptop or smartphone.
- Wow your family with new, exciting technology. Of course, this can always backfire, and you can end up trying desperately to explain WiFi to a group of glazed-eyed relatives astounded by your “magic.” However, I find things like the iPhone are surprisingly kind on new users. There really is an app for just about everything, and you might be surprised to see how good your Aunt Matilda is at Angry Birds. If all else fails, take a snapshot of the night sky and amaze and stun the masses.
- Be a subtle geek. Being a geek is all about the details. Why make boring holiday cookies, when you can geekify them? How about sugar cookies in the shape of the Death Star? Or go with a wide-spread theme, and make gingerbread cookies to re-enact A Christmas Story: red rider guns, leg lamps, hound dogs. I mean really, the possibilities are endless. It’s easy enough to make a cookie template online (for a slightly easier approach, consider printing out a shape and laminating around it, then using a knife to cut it out). Other ideas: Grinch cookies, medieval cookies, Firefly and/or Buffy cookies, Mario Bros. Cookies…
- Break out the console. I know, I know, you worry that someone might end up tossing the Wiimote at the plasma screen. But there’s something really different about the newest games and consoles on the market right now, in that it’s easy for people to play them. I mean, Skyrim might not be a good choice, but Wii Sports is always a hit. And it does work. My mother, for instance, is a pro at Guitar Hero. And my dad, who has severe arthritis, can actually use the Wii because it only requires a small amount of finger dexterity (other remotes he just can’t use). Instead of games taking you away from your family, it can actually bring you together. And really, regardless of what you celebrate—even if you don’t celebrate anything at all—there’s no price on togetherness.