Batteries Not Included
It has been said that I may have played too much hockey without a helmet. As a result, I may have difficulty remembering things or my memory lapses are because I’m getting old. Regardless the cause, I cannot remember when the phrase “batteries not included” became part of our everyday language, particularly at this time of year. I have accepted the challenge of trying to find the “perfect” gift for our bright and precocious eight (eight-and-a-half if you ask her) year old granddaughter, Mandy. There seems to be a plethora of gift ideas but few toys that do not require batteries or charging. My search began with a quick scan of last years “Wish Book” catalogue which Nana had strategically left with Mandy during a rainy afternoon last summer. Mandy had played the wish book game and used a marking pen to highlight her choices of ideal gifts. Nana suggested that 10 items to wish for would be fun and Mandy responded with a thoughtful list ranging from clothes to toys, then at Thanksgiving we had Mandy do the same in this year’s Wish Book. This should have made my Christmas shopping quest a little easier, but as I was about to discover, things change a lot from one year to another in the catalogue and in a little girl’s likes, dislikes and wishes. Our gift to Mandy last Christmas was the exact velvet dress and shoes that had been felt penned in the Wish Book the summer before. As luck would have it, they both perfectly fit the ever-growing child. The dress and shoes were a hit and got a lot of mileage during the Christmas visit (they are in most of the pictures) and then some more mileage for a month or two after Christmas at school. Then the ever-growing Mandy did what ever-growing kids do; she grew out of the shoes first and then the dress, a short time later, leaving the outfit to be handed down to her smaller cousin, keeping the family hand-me-down tradition alive. The felt penned highlights in this year’s Wish Book were eye opening, to say the least. Not so much the choices, themselves, but the categories to choose treasures from. How different the options are from when I was eight-years-old. I do not recall having a Wish Book in our house…there is that memory thing again. Maybe we were poor? We were so poor that we had to rent a turkey for Christmas dinner….bada boom! (rimshot). We were so poor we got the first pet rocks… bada boom!...and they were hand me downs…bada boom! I was lucky I was the oldest. I always got fresh rocks…. bada boom! There! I feel better now, but toy and gift options for modern children are almost unlimited and unbelievable, not to mention expensive and needing batteries or charging. Last year and again this season, there was a popular animated movie featuring magical princess sisters that “froze” out all the other movies and soundtracks for kids. So the smartypants$ellitguys coloured every toy they could imagine blue and put those princess characters on them and set records for merchandising. They even had a snowman character. Of course they marketed a snowman character making kit for $35…some assembly required, with some snow and n batteries. When I was eightyears-old, our snowman kit was a carrot. Lucky kids these days. There was some remote controlled flying things circled in this year’s Wish Book. Again, it seemed that almost anything can be coloured a pastel shade, labeled “Princess” and then marketed to young girls. A remote controlled flying fairy princess seems to resemble a remote controlled flying attack drone, except for the pastel colours and some different decals, but they both need batteries for the remote and the flying thingy. Techy toys for both boys and girls reflect changes in our security aware society with “spy” toys that would have made Maxwell Smart green with envy. Toys like video surveillance cameras with playback watches that can tell time, as well as recording suspicious neighbours or relatives, providing the batteries are charged. Perhaps the coolest spy toy is a pair of night vision goggles. For a guy like myself that is afraid of the dark, this just might be what I ask Santa for this year. As I flipped through the toy section of the Wish Book, I realized that Mandy was a child of a technological time in history. She is as comfortable with the battery operated toys as Grumpy was with pet rocks. I wonder if Mandy would be happy with a retro pet rock as a Christmas gift???…batteries not included, of course.