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.

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Changes


I was thinking about Grandmother today. She is in her late nineties.  Nearly one hundred years old. I started listing, in my head, the changes in the world in her life time. She was born, raised, and has lived all her life right here in Oklahoma. When she was a girl, there were no highways, no cars for the farmers and ranchers, no electricity in every home, no indoor plumbing, and no telephones. Laundry was done in vats of water heated over an open fire in the yard, and hung to dry on fences and bushes.  Bread wasn’t made in a bread maker or picked up at the grocery, it was homemade, sweets were a luxury, and the most common form of transportation was one’s feet.
Grandmother has seen the coming of air flight, men walk on the moon, and space exploration. The modern age of medicine that can keep a person alive, almost indefinitely, began in her lifetime.  Today, there are cures for disease that used to wipe out whole generations, and that cure is one dose of medication. Today, there are diseases that were unknown in her days as a mother that can devastate and devour children and adults, and we still have no cure for them.  But, maybe, when we are nearly one hundred years old, there will be.
She had never heard of computers, modems, the internet, or Microsoft, and still thinks computers are toys that just beep and make noise.  Grandmother never played with a Gameboy, skateboard, or had a dolly that talked, drank a bottle, and had to have its nappy changed.  She was doing the work of a full grown woman at the age of 14, not talking on the phone and wondering when her parents were going to understand her.  She was much too busy, cooking, cleaning, working the farm, and looking after her family to worry about such mundane things.  It wasn’t because her parents were mean, it was because everyone had to work together, and work hard, to survive from year to year.
She watched the oil boom and bust here in Oklahoma again and again.  She saw the slow pace of the world around her become faster each generation, until it seemed to spin by so quickly it made her dizzy.  In her day, courting was done on a Friday night, or Sunday afternoon after church, in front of the entire family, and a kiss was a commitment.  Movies were not common, and when they finally came to her town, it was an EVENT to go to a movie.  Smoking was something men did, and if a woman smoked, well, she was fast. After the cultural changes that took place in World War II, grandmother still thought women who smoked were fast, but she learned to adjust like everyone else.  She saw women move from the home to the workplace, first as they needed to support families torn by war, then as the feminist movement dictated.
She once told me that she understood why so many women wanted to work outside the home, after all, the house practically takes care of itself.  Look at all the modern appliances now.  Vacuum cleaners, no more need to move and beat rugs every week; refrigerators, no need to have ice delivered or bottle foods and put them in the cellar; washing machines, no need to spend the day bent over a scrub board and washtub.  Chemicals that clean and scrub all by themselves, air conditioning, and heating that doesn’t require the chopping, hauling, and use of wood to warm the house.  Frozen foods and microwave ovens means that a meal can be prepared in minutes instead of hours. With that much time on their hands, women were bound to want to go to work.
In her life time, she has lived through two world wars, Korea, Viet Nam, and Desert Storm, plus many other warlike crises that involved the United States.  She has seen the advent of equal rights, feminism in its modern form, women in the workforce, commonality of divorce, welfare replace charity organizations, the move from an agro-economic based state to an oil/industrial based state, and cycle of  birth, life, and death repeated over and over.
There are four GENERATIONS of family living who are all directly related to Grandmother.  Each on has gone through the trials of its particular age.  Grandmother gave birth to three boys.  One became a lawyer, one a doctor, one a businessman.  None of them stayed on the farm, and when Grandfather retired, they moved to town too.   Her husband served in World War I, all of her boys served in World War II, and her grandchildren in other serious actions.  Her boys were in the first generation to be in the mobile age, cars became common, and life started to move faster.
Her grandchildren were in the midst of the “revolution” of the turbulent 60’s and 70’s where cultural, social, and family standards were obliterated and rebuilt into something most of us are still trying to figure out.  Her grandchildren were the first to shout about “rights” and experiment with sex, drugs and rock and roll openly.
It is her great grandchildren’s generation who saw the advent of gender issues, openness of alternative lifestyles, lifestyles, by the way, that grandmother still whispers about in vague euphemisms because they embarrass her mightily. Her great grandchildren have taken the word “alternative” and turned it into a an icon for whatever they want to do since there doesn’t seem to be a particular pattern to follow any longer.
Her great great granddaughter is just four years old, but already understands how to use a telephone, computer, and all about money.  She knows the microwave will heat things, and the refrigerator will keep things cold.  She knows more about television and how it works than Grandmother ever will.  She knows more about the world at four than Grandmother did at twenty, or even thirty, because she has been on a jet plane to England, she has gone across the United States in a car, and visited the great monuments to the past. Her world is even more complex than that of the previous generation, and one can only suppose what will come in the future.
Grandmother won’t be with us much longer.  She is a tiny, withdrawn, elderly body that sleeps most of the time.  She needs twenty four hour care, and she will probably never remember my name again.  She deserves her rest, and our deepest respect.  Grandmother has become an icon, a symbol, of all that glued this motley crew together as a family.  She is the last of her generation, the beginning fabric of all of us who live and when she dies, we will begin, slowly, to unravel into separate groups, until all who knew her are gone as well.
It is our progeny, then, who will remember us as we remember her. We will be the old folks who were so odd with their love beads, pot, and wine.  The old folks who wore funny clothes, used archaic communication devices like telephones that plugged in, and the internet.  We will be the ones that our progeny look back on with affection, and, hopefully, respect.  Like Grandmother, we will weave the fabric from whence our family grows.  Will we, like Grandmother’s family, slowly fray and unravel?  Probably, but that is the beauty of it all, because each succeeding generation gets to weave a new pattern based on the history and colours of the last generations. By adding a bit here and a bit therefrom the past, and new colours and patterns from their lives, the fabric lives on and on.  Sure the stitches and weave are different, but the threads of life are all tied together and become stronger as each generation grows.  That’s what family is all about. Grandmother would approve.

Little Girl, Little Girl


Little girl little girl where have you gone?

Yesterday you were a laughing child twinkling eyes filled with laughter, and tumbling curls, flowing after.

In a dress of Pink and white, flowers all around. Baby dolls and little bikes, falling on the ground. Tears, and scrapes, band aids and drinks. Hugs and kisses, our hearts linked.

Little girl, growing up fast, with your girlfriends running past. Trying lipstick, high heels and dresses. Fixing hair, and polishing nails all attitude and tossing tresses.

France

One day the little girl was all gone, and there you stood. A woman grown all on your own. Eyes all aglow, in love with life.

Some times though I see, in your smile and twinkling eyes, that little girl with tumbled curls whose laughter filled the skies

Little girl little girl, where have I gone? “No where, look in your heart Where memories go on, and love never dies. There, your little girl lies.”