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A search for meaning on a very Google Christmas

December 25, 2008 | 10:06 am

It's Christmas morning, and unlike most Americans, I'm at work. But like some Americans, I'm at my computer. Just looking at the top 25 Google search terms at this hour is a window into the changing celebration of Christmas:

-- Christmas past. (Think: Folger's classic commercial of the big brother making it home for Christmas.)

Breakfast is on the table, wrapping paper is strewn around the living room. Maybe carols are floating through the air. The family is gathered around some mythical hearth sharing the moment. Ihop

-- Christmas present. (Think: "Blade Runner.")

Apparently, everyone is everywhere.

Mom's looking for a mimosa recipe (No. 14. Pretty sure it's O.J. and Champagne) or how to work up a quick standing rib roast (No. 17. Perhaps you shouldn't all be undertaking this.). Little Johnny is looking for Guitar Hero World Tour cheats (No. 12. Just plain lazy.). Maybe little Susie is driving up Apple's stock price by looking for iTunes (Nos. 3, 4, 8, 22. Psst! Susie, I'm pretty sure you can disintermediate Google by using your browser's address bar.). Dad's trying to figure out the new Zune (Nos. 21 and 24) he purchased for himself.

And don't get me started on the top two searches. They deal with America's two great obsessions: food and shopping.

The No. 1 search term on Google this morning is "ihop," as in the International House of Pancakes. Apparently breakfast is on the table, just not the one folks have at home. Mom not mixing up a fresh batch? No matter, just jump in the SUV and head to IHOP, Waffle House (No. 9) or Denny's (No. 10).

The second trend is that folks want to know where they can spend more money. "Stores open on Christmas Day" (No. 2) reflects America's profligate ways. Didn't we keep hearing that people were going to simplify this holiday season? Weren't the recession, war and gas prices going to make this a bloody season for retailers? Not if these searches are any guide: "Wal-Mart Christmas Day hours" (No. 16) and "Is Best Buy open on Christmas" (No. 18).

And btw: Not finding any evidence that Wal-Mart, Best Buy or K mart are open. So you may have to wait until tomorrow.

Step away from the computer and get back to Christmas.

-- Sean Gallagher

Photo: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

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