As a kid, I can remember sneaking around the house trying to find out where my parents hid the presents. I’d check closets, look under beds, or take a peek in the car trunk. I’d ask my siblings if they were able to find anything or gain any clue as to the loot we thought we would be taking in. There was a good chance my dad kept them at his office. Sometimes I’d get lucky and find a present or two and then I had to show my surprise when I opened my Stretch Armstrong. Last week, I discovered my kids’ version of peeking. The Amazon delivery notification on their Kindle Fire. And so goes the tale of how Amazon stole Christmas from my kids.
When I got home, last week, my youngest daughter had a little grin on her face. She said, “Hey, dad, how are those new running socks you bought?” I stood there for a second, looking perplexed. I asked her how she knew, as the socks were delivered to my office and still in my bag. She smugly replied, “I got the notification on my Kindle Fire.” I chuckled for a moment and then turned the color of Santa’s red suit. I thought of all of the Amazon purchases we have made for their Christmas list. I then recalled the daily barrage of Amazon deliveries to our doorstep.
The image of she and her sister dialing up our Amazon order list and cheering and spinning around at all their gifts danced around in my head much like those sugar plums. How did I not think of this before? How long has this been going on? How have they been able to keep a lid on this for so long? And I then thought back to when I was their age.
Each generation, parents look to outsmart their kids. Kids think they have found ways to outsmart their parents. During the holiday season, parents go to great links to be able to procure, and then hide, all of the presents until they are wrapped and opened. With the rise of Cyber-Monday and convenience of online shopping, purchasing the gifts have never been easier. Hiding the gifts is the easy part. Hiding the electronic purchase trail has become the hard part.
Technology has made our lives easier. From the home to the workplace, the access to information and the ease of a transaction has never been easier and will only get better. And while this is not a rant against the evils of technology or the need for technological detoxes from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the advances have the ability to take away a little bit of the mystery of the season. As great as Artificial Intelligence is, one phrase of, “Hey, Alexa, tell me my past orders,” and the day can be spoiled.
Parenting in the technological age has its advantages. I would have given anything for a cell phone when I was 13 so I didn’t have to pedal my behind back and forth from my friends to home just to check in. I’m sure my mom would have loved having a cell phone when I thought it was a brilliant idea to stay out all night one evening on spring break. While she walked the beaches all night, I was 4 floors below with other friends. Walking in the door the next morning didn’t go over so well and it was a long drive home to Speedway.
And there are also some disadvantages. I’m not talking about all of the “dangers” of social media and cyber-bullying. I’m talking about them having too much access to the fun of the home and being able to keep some surprises.
So when the kids finally let me know that they realize Santa Claus is a fictional character, I will remind them that they are wrong. Santa Claus does exist. And his name is Jeff Bezos.