iChristmas powers past grown-ups

Connection between generations is strong; just needs new batteries

December 30, 2010|Susan Reimer

Nobody gets a shiny new bike for Christmas anymore. They get a video game version of the Tour de France.

Nobody gets a sweater or a shirt or a tie these days. They get an iPhone, an iPad, a Kindle or Xbox Kinect. And stockings are stuffed with controllers, headsets and AA batteries instead of candy.

It was a high-tech holiday this year, and the grown-ups in my family were scrambling to keep up with the kids. We were faking that look of composure, the one we save for the self-checkout lines at Home Depot.

My husband bought our nephew what he thought was a fishing lure. It was a thumb drive, and he'd have probably tied it to the end of a fishing line and thrown it in the river if 10-year-old Rudy hadn't pointed out the mistake.

He purchased a Blu-ray version of the movie "Toy Story" because he thought Blu-ray was a fancy kind of Cinemascope. He had no idea it was a new generation of video technology. My daughter searches for her iPod, and he picks up her compact (do they even use that word anymore?) and offers that to her in triumph.

Yes, it was a rough Christmas for the grown-ups in our tribe, who were born into a time when TVs had tubes and phones had cords and channel-changers were the youngest members of the family. When 3-D movies were all the rage — the first time around.

It was a time when the only numbers you were accountable for were your home phone number and your anniversary — not a list of 30 passwords.

A time when Christmas meant putting up with visits from relatives, with their tiresome old stories, instead of playing "Madden 11" with strangers on the Internet.

We grown-ups are not Luddites. And we are adapting as fast as we can. Some of the newfangled toys under the tree this year were fun.

Wii Golf, for example, is amazingly realistic. My husband still scores eights on par-4s. And I can still clear a room with my dancing without the bother of a wedding reception. All I need is "Dance Central" for Xbox.

The only game my husband is better at on Wii than in real life is bowling, and that's because there is no Wii equivalent of eating a hot sausage sandwich and quaffing three beers.

We all have new phones and each has GPS — the technology designed for those of us who can't refold a map and never go to Washington without suddenly finding ourselves in Virginia. But those little electronic ladies and their mispronunciations (think "Bel Air Road" instead of "Blair Road") don't do much for automobile ambience. My daughter actually argued with it on the way home from Pittsburgh. Um, argued with her. Whatever.

And driving didn't go much better for my husband, who recently found himself in a rental car with a keyless ignition. He got it started without any trouble but was 30 minutes down the road when he wondered whether there was a keyless way to turn it off, or whether he was going to have to just let it idle in the hotel parking lot all weekend.

But, as I said, we are eager for this new tomorrow. My husband is looking into Kinect because he thinks it might replace the remote he can never find. Someday, he might be able to change channels with the wave of his hand instead of, as he did in a moment of confusion, trying to do it with his BlackBerry keypad.

That beats just about anything — except a kid brother to do it for you.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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