No Tech Christmas


It occurred to me, oh, several months ago, as I was organizing my Christmas list, that I wanted to give my grandchildren vintage toys. Well, remakes of vintage toys, the originals are far too pricey. I wanted them to have a Christmas where nothing they received from my husband and I needed a battery, cable, or plug in. It seems that we have overwhelmed our kids with things that beep, flash, talk, and require constant attention. It was time to get back to basics.

For my nine year old grandson, there were a set of stilts, modern and better made, but stilts, nonetheless. A honest to goodness wooden yoyo along with a trick book just like they had in the 1950’s, along with crazy straws, paddle balls, a board game, several joke books, and the Dangerous Book for Boys. I added a science project about gross things, and treats. Not one thing required any sort of power except boy power. He loved everything, and was working to master the yoyo when they went home.

For my six year old granddaughter, we got an art set. A real, honest to goodness set with everything from paints to pencils and everything to go with it. She is really into drawing and such. Several coloring books joined the set, along with lots and lots of paper. She also go the crazy straws and paddle balls, but girl stuff too, like a pair of shoes and an out fit. She got the Daring Book for Girls, that matched Nick’s for boys. And hair pretties along with a grooming kit. Nothing needed power other than the power of a girl. She was over the moon, and spent hours drawing.

And our little Addie? Her favorite toys is a small felt dolly I picked up for a buck at the dollar store. Who would have though!? We also got her a tent to play in, and to help corral her when we need to have our hands free for something. She loves that too, along with the drum, and soft toys she got. She was really having more fun with with the paper and boxes than anything.

It is easy to go on line and pick out things that beep and buzz for kids. It is much harder to think of the way their minds work and come up with innovative ways to entertain them. It is easy to let a machine entertain them, but it is, in my opinion, to encourage them to explore, invent, create, and study the world around them. Making them the center of the play, not the machine, will stretch their minds, help them create, and encourage exploration in all manners of topics.

Next year is going to be a challenge, but I am already doing research, and I expect something will come to mind. Like Jax and a jump rope for Bella, and some sort of cool science experiment for Nick. I’m thinking mad scientist, cool stuff. Addie will be easy, everything from toys to clothes . . . and boxes and paper.

I love being a Nana.

Cinema Passion


Some people go to the movies because they are bored. Some people go because the kids are driving them crazy and it is too hot to send them outside, or they refuse to go outside. Some people, especially teenagers, go to hang out with friends and to see the hottest, new movie. Not that they actually watch the movie with all the socialization going on between them. Some people go to the cinema out of habit, and some because it is a particular genre they enjoy. There are some people who actually go just to be entertained. There is, however, a breed of cinema goers who are in a class all their own.

These are the people who have a true passion for movies. Some of them are passionate about certain actors, making it their business to know all the statistics about each and every one in every movie they see. They can recite chapter and verse about all their favorite actor’s parts and quote, line for line, the dialogue from their favorite scenes. They are fanatic about every detail of the character, and will argue endlessly about what scene in what movie was the best scene for the actor they adore.

Another group passionate about the movies is the technical fanatics. They love to go to the movies and pick apart the special effects, point out the obvious continuity flaws, pour over the scenes and pick out tiny mistakes on the set, or, in some cases, huge flaws. In this group is the sub groups of Sci/Fi technical fanatics who have read every book in a series, like Lord of the Rings, and love to note what scenes have been left out, combined, or changed beyond all recognition. They are passionate about the story, but also the way in which technology was used to create the movie. They will sit and watch the credits to the bitter end to see who did what in the movie.

There are people who are passionate about the whole movie experience, regardless of the genre or the technology. These are people, of which I am one, who have grown up in the cinema all their lives. Going to the movies is as much a part of who we are as anything else in our lives. Some of us can quote favorite lines from movies, know every word to every song from the musicals of our youth, and have favorite actors, but aren’t fanatic about them. Children of the cinema love the ambiance of a large screen, dark auditorium, and the expectation of the movie bursting on to the screen with sound and color. We are the people who get annoyed at the whisperers, bag rattlers, ice crunchers, and crying kids because it ruins the show for us.

The children of the cinema have certain rituals that must be observed. Buying the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, and sometimes candy are an important part of the process. We can hardly wait for the previews of coming attractions so we can plan for future cinema experiences. We wait with excitement for a new movie to come out so we can find ourselves involved in a new story that will make us laugh, cry, jump in fear, or feel romantic. The cinema is an escape, a place where we can leave our worries of real life behind and live in a fantasy world for a few hours. Knowing, however, that soon we will be back to dealing with life as usual.

Even leaving the theatre is something of a ritual. Waiting for the final credits to roll, the last note of music to fade, we gather our detritus, and depart as the lights come up in the room, are all part of the encounter. Children of the cinema blink in the bright lights of the lobby as we make our way out into the real world, already dissecting the movie, and comparing it to others that we have seen as we plan the next sojourn into the magic that is our passion.