Galaxy S23 Ultra: Hands-On Netflix Password-Sharing Crackdown Super Bowl Ads Apple Earnings Google's Answer to ChatGPT 'Knock at the Cabin' Review 'The Last of Us' Episode 4 Foods for Mental Health
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

At Christmas, a gadget is all some people have

While most people are getting together and celebrating, there are those who will spend the day with their lone hope being a gadget.

Will you make it ring for Christmas?
Josh Miller/CNET

We eat. We drink. We are merry.

We are enveloped in those we love, even if they don't always love us.

We pull out our phones to record the events. This is a special time. We are all together.

But at Christmas, not everyone experiences togetherness. Not everyone can turn to someone next to them and tell them a story, a feeling or a memory. Not everyone can wave their iPhone around the room, in an attempt to preserve the moment.

There are people who will spend Christmas alone.

While we, especially in these pages, debate the merits of one gadget over another, one brand over another, these people's one hope this Christmas will be any gadget they happen to own.

Last year, I gingerly broached the subject of those who won't be surrounded by anyone other than their inner soul.

They will spend all of Christmas Day clutching their Lumias or iPads in the hope that someone remembers who they are, where they are, why they are.

Last year, I received countless e-mails from people who were separated, cast out or merely who found themselves alone because of life's ridiculous absurdities.

Some people don't have families anymore. They reject invitations from friends because they don't want to seem a burden. They don't want to be the object of pity.

Some are so distanced from their families that they don't even know how to bridge that divide. If you wait for the first person to flinch, no one might flinch at all.

There are children who have disowned their parents and parents who have disowned their children. There are people who have fought with such intensity that sometimes they forget what the fight was about, but they know they are in the right.

The driver might have been pride, ignorance, immaturity or self-loathing. The driver drove them into a ditch.

There is the dynamic soul who has pursued a career to the detriment of so much else in life. One day, she turns around and all she has are things.

There are people, too, who have completely messed their own lives up. When decisions needed to be made, their priorities stank, their selfishness or fears overtook them and now all they seem to have is themselves.

There are people who are too afraid of telling the one person they love precisely that. Instead, they lock themselves away, in the belief, perhaps, that they don't deserve to be loved at all.

There are people who never learned how to reach toward someone, so they keep to themselves. But still they hope. In fact, that hope for them is so much stronger and more painful.

And what of those who simply cannot get over a love they believed was true -- still believe is true -- a love that was taken away? Perhaps the one who took it away was frightened. Perhaps he or she didn't think they themselves deserved it. They also didn't think about the effect it would have.

There is a lover who was left by her fiance just before a plane took off -- literally and emotionally left -- and was so shocked by the experience that she can't bear the thought of being with anyone at this time of togetherness. Even though the one thing she wishes is that the clock could be turned back and she could at least know why that person left and never talked to her again.

There are people who were left just when they needed someone else the most. The pain was so great, they daren't ever approach that kind of vulnerability again.

There are people destroyed by ugly divorces, separations through family feuds, misunderstandings, ambitions, sickness and, worst of all, money.

All these people -- and so many more -- will be hoping that their gadget will somehow bring them a message, a surprise and a future that they currently fear is lost.

On Christmas Day, they'll be mooching about their studio apartments, mansions or fancy hotel rooms, staring at screens and wishing for an apparition. They might have schmaltzy Christmas movies playing on their TV screens, but the one screen that can really make a difference is likely to be mobile.

If it's in your power to change these people's days -- never mind their lives -- do it. If it takes a picture, a message, a video or even one single word, have the courage to press send.

If it means that you're the one who will have to perform some sort of climbdown, admission, explanation, confession or act of contrition, still do it.

On this day of all days, don't hold back. Because, on this day of all days, hearts are just a little more prone to do the right thing.

To all those who commented and sent me messages throughout the year -- yes, even those who needed to express that I am viler than the worst pestilence in Hell -- I hope your Christmas is exactly as you would wish it to be.

There is no substitute for the warmth togetherness can bring.