As Mister Boomer navigated the holiday hustle in the weeks preceding Christmas, he grabbed his decades-old address book to make his annual Christmas card list. As objects go, it’s on the small side, maybe three by four inches, but it is packed with slips of torn paper gathered through the years as friends and family moved from one place to another.
In the middle of his search-and-deploy mission for current addresses, it suddenly hit him like an unexpected snowball to the face: technology has fundamentally changed so much of our boomer Christmas traditions, beginning with the need for an address book.
Mister Boomer is reminded that every generation after the Baby Boomers had little to no use for a physical address book. Chances are, anyone under the age of thirty never hand-wrote an address onto a page designed just for such a purpose. These days, “contacts” are saved on a phone, but home addresses rarely make an appearance on these lists. Rather, an e-mail address has supplanted the home address.
These types of phone contact entries speak to another technological change: sending Christmas cards. Statistics show that the number of Christmas cards that are being traditionally mailed through the Post Office have been steadily dropping for more than a decade. For many people still interested in sending annual greetings, e-cards are replacing the cards delivered by your postman.
Even decorating the tree has been irrevocably changed by technology. Remember watching (and even helping) your father untangle loops and knots of tree lights? We could not have imagined such a thing as “pre-lit” artificial trees. Artificial trees were around in our boomer days, but now the trees have lights permanently attached to the branches, ready to plug in and shine. And they are LED lights at that, with their jewel-tone glow, guaranteed to burn brightly for a decade or more.
Outside decorations have also been touched by the technology elf. Many homeowners no longer see the need to get out the ladder to manually attach lights across the house gutters. Instead, sticking a couple of hand-sized boxes with stakes on the bottom into the lawn is all that is needed to project a variety of colors and patterns over the entire surface of a house.
If saving time were the point of these technological advances, there is no argument. In fact, Mister Boomer loves technology. He got his first computer in 1986 and never looked back. Yet Mister B can’t help but wonder what sort of nostalgia today’s children will have fifty years from now, remembering how their fathers plopped the eight-foot inflatable snowman on the front lawn.
Like so much of our lives, technology has facilitated the insta-this or insta-that opportunity, but insta-Christmas? Mister B prefers the frustrations of the holidays and yes, nostalgia, of fathers swearing at inanimate objects that take all day to shop for, install or write. Maybe that’s just the boomer in him.
How about you, boomers? Has technology improved your holidays, or do you still put your tinsel on the tree one strand at a time?