Associated Press: December retail sales slip after a record holiday season

Associated Press: December retail sales slip after a record holiday season. “Americans overlooked shortages, spiking prices and uncertainty over the omicron variant to break spending records during the critical holiday shopping season. But figures released Friday show that after spending robustly early in the holiday season, consumers sharply slowed their purchases from November to December.”

Associated Press: Despite supply issues and omicron COVID variant, holiday sales rise 8.5%

Associated Press: Despite supply issues and omicron COVID variant, holiday sales rise 8.5%. “Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, reported Sunday that holiday sales had risen 8.5% from a year earlier. Mastercard SpendingPulse had expected a 7.4% increase. The results, which covered Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, were fueled by purchases of clothing and jewelry. Holiday sales were up 10.7% compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday period.”

COVID-19: At least 4,500 flights around the world cancelled as coronavirus causes travel chaos (Sky News)

Sky News: COVID-19: At least 4,500 flights around the world cancelled as coronavirus causes travel chaos. “Globally on Christmas Eve there were 2,401 flights cancelled and 10,000 delayed as operators struggled with staff absences. According to the online flight tracker FlightAware.com, 1,779 routes were not scheduled to operate as planned on Christmas Day, with a further 409 down on Boxing Day.”

Washington Post: A man strung Christmas lights from his home to his neighbor’s to support her. The whole community followed.

Washington Post: A man strung Christmas lights from his home to his neighbor’s to support her. The whole community followed.. “Kim Morton was home watching a movie with her daughter when she received a text from her neighbor who lives directly across the road. He told her to peek outside. Matt Riggs had hung a string of white Christmas lights, stretching from his home to hers in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood, just north of the Baltimore city line. He also left a tin of homemade cookies on her doorstep. The lights, he told her, were meant to reinforce that they were always connected despite their pandemic isolation.”

Mashable: Google’s Santa Tracker isn’t just a holiday treat, it’s also made Google better

Mashable: Google’s Santa Tracker isn’t just a holiday treat, it’s also made Google better . “The Santa Tracker originally launched in Dec. 2004, and has been continuously updated by Google’s team ever since. It’s gotten big features, like new coding games and voice assistant integration, and small ones, like a mask for Santa to protect himself and others during the pandemic. And according to the official Google blog, the developers behind each update have found that working on the Santa Tracker is not only a fun holiday tradition, but useful for overall Google service development, too.”

Anglican Ink: Covid concerns prompt National Cathedral to cancel Christmas Day services — Christmas Eve services unchanged

Anglican Ink: Covid concerns prompt National Cathedral to cancel Christmas Day services — Christmas Eve services unchanged. “Like you, we are watching the spread of COVID-19 and the omicron variant with equal measures of fatigue and wariness. I imagine that you, too, are asking what this variant means for upcoming Christmas gatherings and what steps each of us can take to protect our friends and families. The health and safety of our extended Cathedral community is our highest priority. In these anxious times, nothing else is more important. However, nearly two years into this pandemic, we have the tools, practices and valuable experience that allow us to gather safely and responsibly.”

MakeUseOf: How to Turn Alexa Into Santa Claus This Christmas

MakeUseOf: How to Turn Alexa Into Santa Claus This Christmas. “‘Tis the season when people eagerly await the arrival of the most famous person of all. No, not Adele or Beyonce. Santa Claus! And in order to bring holiday cheer into our homes this Christmas, Amazon has added Santa Claus as its Alexa’s latest voice skill. Here’s how to set up Alexa’s new Santa Claus voice, what devices it will work on, and what you can ask Santa once it has been enabled.”

ITV: Silent night: Some Christmas nativities cancelled due to coronavirus while others get creative

ITV: Silent night: Some Christmas nativities cancelled due to coronavirus while others get creative. “Christmas nativities are a tradition many parents and grandparents have for the second year in a row missed out on. While the Government said school and nurseries could host festive shows this year, the rise in Covid cases means many have been cancelled or are being attended virtually.”

CNN: Zoom Santas are back and eager as ever

CNN: Zoom Santas are back and eager as ever. “Santa Bombing piggybacks on the runaway success of virtual Santa visits last year. Like the explosion in popularity for curbside dining options and Zoom itself, the sudden rise of Zoom Santas met a pandemic need. It offered families a safer alternative to the annual tradition of visiting Santa Claus at a mall amid a surge in Covid cases, and offered actors a chance to still earn a paycheck for Santa work over the holidays — in some cases far more money than with IRL Santa work.”