Gift Giving 101 ….No Basketballs

“A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.” – Emo Philips


Back in the day, before knee, ankle and foot problems, basketball was my passion.  It was a simpler time in my world and as long as I had access to a ball and sneaks, the plentiful outdoor courts were my playground. We were considered “poor” at the time though, so that ball and sneakers always presented a problem.  I had the good graces to put off any juvenile delinquency until the age of 17, but, at the age of 12, I hatched what I believed to be a fool-proof plan to stay “equipped”.  The dilemma was in figuring out how to spend very limited funds on my sport of choice, without stiffing my mother out of a Christmas present.  So, like any good conniving young kid, I decided to present my mother with a basketball for Christmas.  The hope was that she’d graciously accept the gift in December, and by springtime, she’d cave and give it to me. And, the first couple of years, it worked. By the age of 15, I was working washing pots in a popular restaurant, so I had a few more dollars to spend.  That was the year I added a pair of size 11 Chuck Taylors to her obligatory basketball under the aluminum Christmas tree.  But, when spring rolled around and all my buds were reacquainting themselves with elbows, hard fouls and jump shots, my (her?) new ball was nowhere to be found.  In retrospect, I shouldn’t have asked her about it when she was in a foul mood because the next day I found the ball with a kitchen knife slash and my Chucks had been tied together and thrown over a neighborhood power line.  At that moment, I learned the true meaning of the saying “all good things must come to an end“.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with tech? Well stick with me here.

Black Friday was a couple days ago. Today is Cyber Monday, and tis the season of gift giving and “deer-in-the-headlights” expressions.  Because this is the time of year we decide to give our parents or grandparents a “gift” of technology.


Now, let me be up front here. I am not picking on seniors. But let’s face it, younger people are much more intuitive and savvy when it comes to all things tech. 

I see it every year right after the holidays.  People walking into my office, with that look, holding a tablet, computer, e-reader, ipod, or some other device, that they had gotten from a well meaning child or grandchild.  Often, after explaining what they’re holding, and what it will take to use that device, they wonder out loud if their gift giving relatives are hoping to get the device back in the spring. 

You mean well, but flash back to those days when you were a kid. Imagine getting a toy/present that required batteries, but no batteries were included or forthcoming.  Giving a relative a tablet, when they have no wifi, is essentially the same thing.

I’m a huge advocate of the “Keep Seniors Connected Through Tech” campaigns.  But unless you have tech savvy parents/grandparents,  the gifting of a device alone is not going to work. They need to understand what it is and how to use it.  You need to take that extra step. No wifi?. Include a wireless router….and install it!  Want to keep in touch via email? Help them set up an account if they don’t have one already, or set up their account on that tablet or smartphone. Video? Install Skype on their computer/device and show them how to use it, or help them figure out that whole Facebook thing.  Include computer classes or an easily understood book that covers the device you’ve given them. And for all our sakes, help them record and safely store their passwords.

Otherwise, I’ll spend the days and weeks after the holidays answering questions like:


You may as well just have given them a basketball.

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