It’s Christmas morning and the family gathers around the tree to exchange gifts. Imagine the look on the youngest child’s face when she discovers there are no presents for her to unwrap. But Santa hasn’t forgotten her – Finding Dory, The Secret Life of Pets and Storks, which were all on her wish list, have been downloaded and are waiting on Daddy’s laptop. Merry Christmas darling!

Picture this little girl’s quivering bottom lip when she realises she has nothing to show her friends on Christmas Day, while her brother is already playing with his toy bulldozer. She wanted those movies so badly – and got them – but she still feels strangely empty inside, as though she has missed out. Desperately trying to hold back the tears that are brimming, she stifles a sniff and retreats to her father’s study to start his computer, click on the blue tang image floating on the screen, and watch with compromised contentment as Dory swims off to find her parents.


A desktop icon of the movie or TV series you’ve been wanting isn’t exactly exciting (especially if you’re a five year-old) when compared to a colourfully wrapped package sitting beneath the Christmas tree. Something that’s tangible, something unknown, something that can be picked up, squeezed and rattled, something that might be The Complete Harry Potter Collection, something to display alongside the rest of your gifts – the spoils of another year to be flaunted to friends, photographed, and posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Fortunately, Christmas hasn’t reached the post-physical stage… yet. Cards are one of the few forms of correspondence still sent through the post these days (unless of course you prefer to send an e-card), stockings still bulge with last minute surprises, and the base of the tree remains a jumble of presents of varying shapes and sizes. And while an abundance of iTunes downloads and Stan subscriptions will no doubt be given as gifts this year, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of anticipation and the sigh of relief when you discover the Steelbook of Suicide Squad you’d been coveting is beneath the wrapping and is now sitting in your hands, not on your computer screen.

So be sure to give somebody a physical copy of a movie or TV series this year, not a virtual one, and avoid that carefully concealed look of disappointment on Christmas morning. It’s not too late, the shops are still open, and you may just find something you’ve been looking for as well…