Suckers for the Latest Gizmo

Want a vacuum cleaner that bumps around the room on its own, cleaning your house for you? You can have it! How about a car that parks itself? You can have that too, if your pockets are deep enough! The Future is here, and people are hoping to find its gadgets wrapped and waiting for them under the tree.

This December it’s been my goal to resist the power of that giant invisible magnet that is ever attempting to draw us toward shopping. I wanted to really do it this time; to be like unto a child and keep life simple.

I mention children because I just saw the Santa list my daughter transcribed as her pre-schooler recited it to her. He told her he wants a picture of Santa and some monkey dark chocolate.

Now we’re not exactly sure what monkey dark chocolate IS, but we can look for it, we can look! Dark chocolate is everywhere these days. As for the Santa picture, you can just rip that out of a magazine. So, you know, shopping done! Here ya go, kid.

Only of course the child will change. He’s bound to change. His older brother has suggested an i-Pod and a video camera for his own gifts and he’s just in Second Grade.

“An i-Pod and a camera?” I thought on hearing this. “What’s wrong with a new rubber ball, or a nice little wagon or a pretty spinning top?”

But no. People are enamored by the latest gizmo. ‘Twas ever thus.

The Christmas I was six, I got a doll whose diaper would grow moist soon after you forced a little water between her hard plastic lips.

“Betsy Wetsy” she was called and how I loved her for this feature.

To think that she too had tiny pipes and canals all through her like the rest of us! I kept holding her under the water during my baths, to see what else we could get going. And until just now when I looked her up on the Internet I thought she was a product of the Space Race Era of the ‘50s and early ‘60s but no: she was invented way back in the 1930s.

I guess people have been enamored by gizmos since the invention of moving parts.

Why didn’t I know this, with that snapshot I found in the attic? It’s a tiny two-by-two-inch picture, curling at the edges, of three very young children standing before the tree on Christmas morning, each clutching his most treasured toy from Santa.

It was taken in 1910. The children were two, four and six years old. And the gifts were a toy train, a toy camera, and a toy telephone, the kind once dazzlingly new, that has two parts, one you talk into and one you listen at.

Even 100 years ago, toy versions of the latest technologies were much in demand it seems. So maybe like it says in the Bible a little child really shall lead us.

They’re leading us all right. Even children under four can take your cell phone, tap a few keys and be playing the latest version of Angry Birds before you know what hit you.

And they’re not just playing it; they downloaded it.

Next thing you know they’ll be doing all our holiday shopping for us, online – which will free us old folks to get back to the more menial chores we’re used to anyway, like vacuuming the floors and parking the old-fashioned way.

Here are those children from 1910 with their futuristic gadgets. It just gets you thinking, doesn’t it?