During the holiday season, my older son enjoys reading our past Christmas letters, many of which are now in a hard bound book my wife had made a few years ago.
As I mentioned here last month, I started writing these letters when we had a young family. This was after reading numerous December missives, recounting triumphs and accomplishments one could only envy and dream of -- the forerunner to today’s social media.
I decided mine would be different, and set out to write the anti-Christmas letter, one with information about the family, but with a hefty dose of satire.
Our late dog Ralph wrote them for a few Christmases, and those were probably the best ones. Sadly, his muse has eluded me since he left us.
About a month ago, my son called attention to the one I wrote in 2004, with an emphasis on technology. It is amusing to read some 17 years later.
I opened with a narrative explaining how I had complained to that same son that technology had left me behind, to which he had responded, “it never had you to begin with so it didn’t leave you anywhere.”
I referenced digital cameras, saying I would not know how to email a photograph from one, because “I still use film.”
I continued with what I’m sure I thought was a hilarious reference to how, with a digital camera, I had to hold it away from my eyes “and make that little screen stay still while I snap the picture.”
Today I can tell you I never had the opportunity to master using a digital camera because, with the ubiquity of cameras on our phones, they were made obsolete before I could make more jokes about them.
I lamented the departure of VCRs from the tech landscape, and explained how the first one we owned as a young married couple was the only one I had ever been able to use.
“Now we have something called a DVD player and you can be assured I’ve never touched it,” I wrote to those on the 2004 Christmas card list.
Today, when I want to watch something other than appointment television, all I must do is hit “record” on the remote for later viewing.
If only it were that simple. I must make sure “record” coincides with the channel guide and the time the potentially recorded programming allegedly airs. When a long-running football game or a presidential press conference pre-empts the schedule, everything gets off and I miss the ending, which I now must try to imagine or retrieve later from “On Demand.”
In that letter I described “plasma” and “high definition” televisions as if I knew what I was talking about. I made a lame comment about needing no additional definition to watch Donald Trump, the reality TV star, fire someone on “The Apprentice.”
(If you had told the 2004 version of me where Donald Trump would end up, well, we’ll leave it at that.)
I pontificated at length, of course, about the ridiculousness of cell phones and their latest feature, text messaging.
According to this letter, after one year, I was already on my second flip phone and I was none too happy about it. I said I had given my number “to just enough people who might need me in an emergency,” and all others could reach me on my home phone or “land line” (as if legions were waiting in line to talk to me).
And I would never type on tiny little buttons to communicate with someone.
That land line is long gone (which would become the subject of one of my columns years later) and text messaging has become a way of life. In fact, it’s something I have welcomed because it cuts down on telephone calls.
The 2022 version of me still eschews parts of technology, but I only had to read that letter from 2004 to see how far I have come.
17 years from now, after a night on the town in my self-driving car (because the keys to the one I drive myself will have probably been taken from me during a family intervention), who knows what else I might be doing?
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].