The other night, my younger daughter and I were having dinner together. I told her that Halloween was a week away, and at this time of year, when I was her age, one of the big happenings was the annual airing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It was a big deal when it was on, I explained to her, because if you missed it you were out of luck until the next year.
She look bewildered as I explained that in a world without VCRs or DVRs, and without on Demand or the internet, there was just one time when you got to see Charlie Brown get rocks in his trick-or-treat bag, or Linus convince Sally to wait in the pumpkin patch all night, or see Snoopy pretend to be the World War I flying ace. I really did look forward to it, and watching it on TV helped to confirm–if any confirmation was necessary–that it was almost time for tricks or treats.
My daughter then informed me that she had never seen it before, and I know a parenting moment when I see one. I dug out our old copy of it on videotape (since the $2.99 cable fee for watching it on Demand seemed too high) and we went to the old VCR and put it in. I think she enjoyed it, and I know I did, because Halloween just seems to be the unofficial start of the holiday season for me. Thanksgiving comes pretty quickly, and then Christmas, and just two months later it’s New year’s eve.
My daughter told that she’s glad she didn’t grow up in the olden days like I did. I got a laugh when I heard that, because I’m sure I said something similar to my parents at some point in my youth. Anything new that come along, like electricity or color TV or wireless cellphones or whatever else you can think of, makes life impossible for children to imagine without it. It made teaching history just about impossible, since kids probably though that Benjamin Franklin took long bathroom breaks, or George Washington had lots of followers on Twitter.
Having lived through the olden days myself, I have to say that it wasn’t really that bad. I wish I had some of the cool things that my kids have now, but it’s impossible to miss something when nobody’s thought it up quite yet. And whenever these cool new things seem antiquated–which is bound to happen at some point–hopefully they’ll be able to embrace whatever comes along to replace it.