My kids have had an elf on the shelf. This made me think back on growing up and how parents back then made their kids toe the line with behavior around Christmas time. They would threaten to call Santa and would pick up the corded phone and start dialing.
And what would they actually call? The number for "time and temperature". As I remembered this a wave of old familiar habits came rushing back. I called the time and temperature number all the time. We didn't have iPhones to always know an accurate time or to constantly check the weather.
I called that number when my sister or brother bugged me and I would pretend to be talking to mom, because of course I couldn't ACTUALLY call her. There were no cell phones. If she were driving or at a store or in a meeting there was no way to communicate. We had to figure it out on our own.
My kids in contrast call or text me constantly. I'm rarely ever unavailable. They can always reach me. It's so different.
We all have already forgotten what it was like to not always instantly communicate. My kids will never pick up a corded phone and say, "that's it. I'm calling Santa… hi Santa, my brother is not being nice -- you need to put his name on your naughty list".
And they will never hear back "the time is 10:56 pm. And the temperature is 43 degrees."