Van Beek: Santa has gone digital |

Van Beek: Santa has gone digital

Santa and his elves have modernized their operation. They now have social media accounts, have upgraded their sleigh to something called Prime, and have enlisted thousands of helpers who help build toys for kids of all ages, including those that think they are adults.

Couch surfing has taken on new meaning and Santa has decided to partake in the custom by creating a Zoom account and communicating with his global elf bases via the internet. He wonders, how he ever got the job done without it.

He appreciates that when out and about, he can disguise himself with a bit of cloth across his face and keeping a safe distance away from any of those who might try to identify him, however, he has found that children seem able to see past the camouflage. The twinkle in his eye is a sure give-away.

As he enlists helpers from across the globe, he has discovered many newly developing holiday traditions and is amazed at their efficiency and ability to reach the farthest corners of the earth (no, this is not flat-earth theory; it’s an elf expression).

Somethings, however, never change. The trees and decorations continue to brighten up homes and businesses everywhere. Holiday music fills the air as it has for decades. Christmas movies still dominate our streaming apps, with “A White Christmas” and “Die Hard” (yes, it’s a holiday film), leading as favorites. Ugly sweaters fill the December wardrobe, and the scent of good food, especially cookies and milk (a special Santa treat), remain a favorite, this time of year.

Families may be disappointed that gatherings may not happen in the traditional manner, but the exciting news is that they are happening in a much more expansive way because families can get together without the huge expense and considerable travel of years earlier.

The bonus is that we can “have technical difficulties” with those family members who bring us less than our anticipated holiday cheer. We can also gobble up all our favorite holiday dishes, away from disparaging eyes … who says we can’t have pumpkin pie for breakfast?

And … gratitude fills the air. In Eagle County, we live in a winter wonderland. If it wasn’t for traffic on I-70, we’d think we lived in a snow globe! However, the holidays hold the most special meaning for children.

It is a time for dreams and wishes-come-true. For some families, it is a challenging time, as the economy has taken a hit, and many are worried about health issues. This is not beyond Santa’s reach.

While the elves are unable to fix everything, they do a surprisingly good job at appointing helpers to complete their tasks. This year, many volunteers and businesses have been given the honor of assisting Santa in his huge responsibility of bringing cheer to everyone.

Shop with a Cop is our favorite Santa assignment. This year, it looks a bit different than previously, but just as joyous.

The Sheriff’s Office, police departments, firefighters, dispatch and state troopers, all participate. Although, given temporary elf assignments and an opportunity to dress in green with pointed shoes, they will remain in their traditional uniform.

This year, as in previous, schools pick participants based on multiple criteria, selecting those who would benefit most. Permission slips are sent home and “wish lists” created. The officers assigned, spend a bit of time with each child they are assigned, to get a better understanding of what is wanted and needed.

Once the slips are returned, they are assigned a deputy, sergeant, detective or administrative staff, who shop for the children on their own, at the stores of their choosing, with a focus on local small businesses. They wrap and label the presents, returning them to the Sheriff’s Office, where they await distribution. Instead of the traditional turkey and food basket provided to each family in past years, families will be given a City Market gift card.

Santa has requested that convenient locations be designated for gift distribution before the holidays. The Sheriff’s Office will deliver gifts to each child at the requested location on Dec. 8-9. Avon and Vail police departments will have the kids pick up their gifts from the police departments on Dec. 8. Eagle Police Department will be delivering gifts to each child at the requested location on Dec. 17-18.

We are honored to have been selected by Santa, once again, to select and deliver his presents to all of the wonderful children and their families in Eagle County.

We wish you a magical holiday season and are grateful to play a small part of your celebration.

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