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I hope that this holiday brought special blessings to you and your loved ones. This year, I hosted Christmas, and in between the presents and visiting that filled the cabin with laughter and noise and chaos, we spent some time around the fire pit that takes up a portion of my gravel driveway. It’s the only safe spot away from the trees that would otherwise become roman candles during this unseasonably warm north Idaho winter. There were plenty of charcoal marshmallows that fell victim to the fire, but several made it between graham crackers and squares of chocolate for the kids in the group.
Which, of course, made them hyper and brought us indoors for board games. Hyper children dancing around a roaring fire is a recipe for disaster! Scrabble and Yahtzee pretty much filled the hours, and made me wonder. . . What would life be like without phones, texts, the Internet, and the distraction of T.V. and radio?
My consensus? It might not be all that bad. People will be forced to reconnect with one another, whether they want to or not. It’s for sure that texts have increasingly replaced the sound of someone’s voice; the humor and sarcasm and warmth and love. I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced texts are a good thing.
Here’s a point in case that happened when a friend’s eighteen year old daughter come to Idaho for a visit a little more than a year ago. From the time that I picked her up at the airport, she had her face glued to the screen of her smart phone. The drive that brought us back to the cabin was scenic, chosen specifically for her benefit. It was lost on her. As I wound around the hairpin turns, on the alert for white tail deer, I glanced every once in a while to watch her furious thumbs hammer the keyboard of her phone.
Dinners were quick, least she miss any texts. Conversation was cut into small, obligatory bites. Actually, every moment of the day, including the night she made dinner, was devoted to the void of “cyberhell”. The night she surfaced just long enough to cook did not mean she had set her phone aside. She was constantly checking and replying to texts that came in as fast as a Gatling gun runs through bullets. Every once in a while, my young guest would chop the next ingredient before she returned to her beloved screen. I was left wondering if I shouldn’t offer to help, so that dinner might be served sometime before midnight. But I kept my thoughts to myself, which is why I generally get along with most people.
During the entire week she visited, this young woman never placed or received a phone call. Not one! But the exchange on her keyboard was never ending.
I was at a loss. Supposedly, she had come to experience North Idaho. So far, she had scanned the inside of the cabin, which she said was surprisingly nice, and threw her suitcase on the bed in the guestroom. From there, she returned to her phone and texts.
The day that my son came for a visit brought hope. We’d planned on a nature drive to mountains not viewed from my living room windows, and my young guest expressed real interest! But it wasn’t to be. The entire two hour drive was spent with her phone and two impressively limber thumbs as they flew through the alphabet. My son and I were at a loss. Should we dare to interrupt the secluded banter and attempt a conversation? Or should we remain quiet, so as to not interrupt the furious pace? Eventually, I’d had enough. Forget minding my own business! I pulled over to the side of the road, held out my hand and politely requested her phone.
“You’ll get it back once we return home. It’ll give you the chance to take in the scenery. And when you return home to Arizona, and your mom or your friends ask what you thought about Idaho, you’ll be able to tell them about the turquoise lake we’re skirting, and how many trees and deer you saw.”
Since that time, now more than a year ago, I have contemplated how difficult it will be for anyone fully engaged in technology to function in a world devoid of keyboards and texts, all guilty, it seems, to tear us away from family and friends.
We’ll see. I believe the time is coming when we will be sitting around a board game every once in a while, or reading an actual paperback book–Kindles will be dead in a world that’s been unplugged from the grid.
This brings us full circle to the need for entertainment, and it should be added to your list of prep goods. A good selection of books for all members of the family will provide entertainment, and they can be picked up cheap at moving sales and thrift stores. Board games and cards will keep things manageable, filling in those rare moments when the chores are done.
For parents and grandparents, a couple of boxes of printing paper, crayons, colored pencils, pens, pencils and a few gallons of tempura paint will keep you sane. If you think I’m exaggerating the sanity part, I double-dare you to spend just one weekend with children who’ve been unplugged from TV or the Internet or a smart phone!
And when printing paper looses its luster, try making the following recipe for play dough that uses ingredients that preppers should already have on hand–just remember to store food coloring.
Play Dough Recipe
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. T keep Play dough from drying out, store it in a zip-lock bag with the air expressed from the bag before sealing.
As mentioned several times by readers, a home school program is important for children of all ages. Successful Homeschooling has a ton of free downloads you can put aside for the time when it’s needed.
And don’t forget sports. Physical activity will help to contain all that pent-up energy! Here’s what I’ve set aside here at the cabin:
Actually, I had contemplated putting in a tetherball until a family outing led to one eight year old smacking their cousin square in the nose with an impressive volley. After the blood and the crying dried up, I decided that some contact sports were better left for a time when doctor visits can be taken for granted.
Have you put aside board games, cards, paperbacks, and children’s crafts yet? How well do you think society will do without TV, the Internet and smart phones? Please sound off with your comments below!
God Bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva