Merry Christmas, 1913
By: Staff Thursday, December 12, 2013
One hundred years ago in America, Christmas was a mighty different situation. Based on newspaper reports, a website called MyHeritage recently put together a list of most asked for gifts by children who lived back then. Here are the top five requests:

- Candy
- Nuts
- Rocking Horse
- Doll
- Mittens

Modest, to say the least, but reflective of a time that was far less complicated than society is today. Now, kids rule in many homes. And Santa is under siege.

This year, the top five kid wants according to retailers are:

- Furby Boom
- Teksta Robotic Puppy
- LeapPad Ultra
- Flying Fairy
- Bug Hugs Elmo

Let's begin with Furby. This is a robot toy that resembles an owl. The "all new" Furby has a mind of its own and can interact with the tykes. Let's hope Furby isn't a member of the Hell's Angels.

The Teksta puppy is allegedly just like a real dog except there is no bathroom component. Teksta will dance and respond to your hand gestures. Not including the middle finger. The puppy can even perform back flips, which will amuse and amaze. I guess.

The LeapPad Ultra is yet another high-tech gizmo that will hypnotize your child. It's a tablet that kids can write on as well as summon up apps, videos and games. If your child isn't a net-zombie by now, he or she will be once the LeapPad gets in the house.

Flying Fairy is marketed toward little girls and, according to the manufacturer, puts "enchanting" fairy flights directly in the hands of the child. There's never been a more magical experience, says the toy maker. Obviously, they've never been to a Metallica concert.

And finally the Big Hugs Elmo toy moves his arms to return hugs, plays songs, dances with your children, and might even kick in towards their college educations. Elmo is for both girls and boys and is capable of making more than 50 animated sounds. If that sounds like your Uncle Vinnie, it's a coincidence.

All of these toys cost substantial money and you'd better have an engineering degree if something goes wrong. The high tech dog is especially interesting conjuring up all kinds of horror movie possibilities. Don't tell me the toys don't have chips in them that can be activated by some crazy scientist in Bavaria. No way this thing is getting in my house. I already have a dog named Fiona who would attack the bogus dog on sight.

For my money, I think toys are too complicated these days. I like the rocking horse and toy train scenario. But if I gave those things to my kids, their response would be somewhere between the Bay of Pigs and Woodstock. Much angst and chaos.

Luckily, Santa Claus has adapted and his new high-tech sleigh and reindeer have him finished his rounds in Guam long before dawn. But don't mention the Flying Fairy to old St. Nick. He's not into competition.