Saturday, January 6, 2024

When Christmas Is A Parallel Universe

["Let Inga Tell You,"  La Jolla Light, published January 8, 2024] 2024

It becomes increasingly worrisome to me that I couldn't identify half of the Christmas gifts that were exchanged Christmas morning, even ones that I gave.

Fortunately, I didn't have to know what they were. This is what Christmas lists are for. The grandchild or other relative wants this thing? OK, I'm game.

What does it do? I'd ask with genuine interest (and a nagging fear that the world has passed me by) as they oohed and aahed over it.

But then, I am a person who doesn't want any gift that comes with instructions. As I have often chronicled, I have enough trouble operating my iPhone. In fact, a regular source of entertainment at family Christmas gatherings is passing around my phone and laughing at the directions taped to the back. But at least I don't have to worry about someone picking up my phone by mistake.

Christmas is always my favorite holiday of the year, made even more special in that it includes a good-sized group of relatives both from our side plus my daughter-in-law's. A genuinely congenial group.

Fortunately, during gift opening, I was seated next to my daughter-in-law's mother, a truly kindred soul. As a gift was opened, I'd lean over and whisper, Do you know what that is? And she'd whisper back, "Not a clue."

One such item was a gift I gave my 14-year-old granddaughter from her wish list which was described as a Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle. So, was this some kind of skin treatment, or a candle? Turns out it was both. As the fine print, which I hadn't bothered to read in my haste to get my Christmas shopping done, noted: "Nourishing cocoa butter is blended with soybean oil and almond oil to leave the skin smooth and silky, whilst delivering therapeutic benefits for the mind and body. After blowing out the candle, the wax reaches the perfect temperature for application on to skin."

It is also "100% natural, ethically sourced and finely crafted from sustainable origins with absolutely no artificial ingredients." Which, along with using the word "whilst", explains why it is $46. But it made her happy so it made me happy.

One gift that totally stymied me was a bunch of colorful reels of something. Turns out they are printer "food"  for a hobbyist-level 3D printer.

I'm still trying to get my head around a desktop robot pet my nine-year-old grandson desperately coveted. Apparently these things are hugely popular and come in all forms and prices. Thinking this was going to be an easy purchase, I was dismayed to go on Amazon and find the little critters priced from $29 to $500. (I went on the lower end.) According to the description, these robots are "the perfect companion for both kids and adults who love pets, with abundant emotions, idle animations, and interactive features."   No idea what any of that actually means. Should I mention that my grandchildren have actual real pets? With, presumably, emotions (they're dogs)? But my grandson was elated to now be able to share the emotional life of an inanimate object.

I didn't buy this next one, but one of the uber-health-conscious family members received a Smart Ring, an actual fashion accessory ring loaded on its inside with teeny weeny electronics that you wear on your finger 24/7 and tracks, well, pretty much everything. Waterproof, it monitors sleep quality, stress index, heart health, skin temperature, body movement etc. which is then presumably sent to your equally-smart phone? It s apparently way better than those clunky pass√©  smart watches. The Smart Ring alleges to track every movement you make which in my case, would be tracking all the moves I wasn't making. I don't need a Smart Ring (or watch) to abuse me about my weight. I have a primary care doctor for that, and she doesn't need re-charging.

Another grandchild received an easy-to-operate drone. My son and his wife, who host Christmas, moved several months ago to a house with lots of outdoor space which their previous home was woefully lacking. Anyway, when out taking a walk shortly after the move, they noticed the next-door neighbor leaving his home and said to each other, "Um, is that ...?"   Turns out a very famous but now elderly movie star lives next door. When the drone gift was opened, my daughter-in-law's mother leaned in and whispered, "Not sure how the neighbor is going to feel about drones circling over his house. Or about letting kids come over and retrieve it after it crashes into his patio."  This may be a gift that only gets used at the local public park.

I confess that every time someone opened a present that I could actually name, I felt a huge sense of relief. It was starting to feel like I was in a sci fi movie in a parallel universe but which fortunately still served the same totally recognizable and utterly fabulous Christmas dinner. When I can no longer identify what we re eating, I'm calling it quits.

                                                        These reels are "food" for a 3D printer



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