The joys of Christmas past – a tree at the end of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Social distance is more our speed this year. Photo by Chris Stone

Back in the day we did have a drive-in culture. Social distancing before social distancing was cool, you know. But everything old is new again and watching things from your car has become the thing in 2020. It’s no different for the holidays.

In Chula Vista, for instance, enjoy holiday screenings at Otay Ranch Town Center Friday and Saturday. At 8 p.m. Friday, there’s Elf, followed by two Saturday flicks, Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch at 5 p.m. and The Santa Clause at 8 p.m. Admission costs $29 per car and few slots remain.

Santee hosts its annual Festive Fridays at 5:30 p.m. with two socially distant selfie stations at Santee Trolley Square and Town Center Community Park East. Families can take photos with Santa or Frozen characters, but you must reserve a spot online to participate. The event also takes place Dec. 18. 

Classic-rock band Los Lobos has a Christmas album – and a wry sense of humor. Belly Up streams their concert, “Still Home for the Holidays” (yep, we are) at 7 p.m. Friday. Stream it for $20 and enjoy a few special guests too.

If your children love buses and big cars, you can combine generosity and make them happy too, at the Stuff the Bus food drive events throughout San Diego Saturday. Local transit agencies will have buses at some of the events, at Vons and Albertsons supermarkets, to fill with donations for local food banks.

Hanukkah started Thursday – for a 2020 take on the holiday, register for a slot at Congregation Beth Israel’s Festival of Taillights, starting at 4:15 p.m. Sunday. There’s gifts for attendees, and donations of $25 gas cards and socks will be accepted for those in need.

The specters of A Christmas Carol, that holiday staple, continue to rise up at local playhouses. Try North Coast Repertory’s classic take, through Dec. 31, or New Village Theatre’s Estella Scrooge, with a Wall Street twist, in partnership with Rubicon Theatre Company. North Coast’s stream starts at $35, and New Village’s at $30.

Another old-school classic Miracle on 34th Street, gets an old-school treatment, in the guise of a back-in-day radio play. The story depicts a department store Santa who claims he’s the real deal, and one little girl who believes. The play stream, at $25, benefits the Moonlight Cultural Foundation. Links can be used once through Jan. 1.

Need a breather from online shopping? Here’s a handy-dandy list to find all the Christmas classics or near classics, and where to stream them.

Prefer the oldies (It’s a Wonderful Life, Amazon Prime), the neo-classics (Elf, Amazon Prime and Apple), newbies (Happiest Season, Hulu) or the eternal debates (Die Hard – Christmas movie or no?, HBO Max)? Pick and choose for your pre-holiday Zoom call with friends and family.

– Staff reports