#2 daughter borrowed this book from the library. It has a newsboy hat which I may make for #1 daughter, a couple of patterns #2 daughter wants made for her, and a sweater with flames on the sleeves which I would like to make, but I have no one willing to wear it. If I am ever a grandmother, I will make the bunny hat, too. However, I will not need the patterns themselves to do any of these things, so I will not be buying the book.

If I were a beginning knitter, though, I would. It has good basic instructions, lots of helpful hints (though I confess to failing to understand the reason for freezing mohair; guess I’ll have to try it), and easy patterns for jazzy little things like cell-phone covers and monster slippers.

The teens and twenty-somethings are engaged in world domination over by the fireplace (Risk: Godstorm, to be specific) and I am waiting for the laundry to be ready to shift. At work, we’ve been doing inventory and calculations and fourth-quarter post-mortems, and one of the things we’ve been discussing is the fall in toy sales. This is nothing new, and nothing specific to us — if you follow business news, you will have noticed it yourself over the past few years.

Is it because people are turning to a spiritual rather than material focus for the holidays? Making charming hand-turned wooden dolls and trains? Joining their children in giving to charity instead of buying toys? No, indeed. It is because children are receiving electronic stuff instead of toys. I like electronic stuff, and I gave my kids some for Christmas, too — but we are talking here even about small children. Parents think their 5 year olds are too old for toys. They want electronic gear for their infants and toddlers.

This is a problem not because there is something wrong with electronics, but because of what the kids are giving up: physical activity, social interaction, imaginative play, and any semblance of amusing themselves. The kids in my living room are having a really good time playing games right now, without any screens at hand. Sometimes they play music, sometimes physical games they make up on their own, and sometimes board games — and, at 13 to 21, they are not by any means too old to play. Most kids do have fun playing, if they get the opportunity. But often they do not get the opportunity. They have nothing between supervised sports and video games, with TV a constant companion. I have actually seen video-equipped strollers.

The result of this is that we have kids behaving like teenagers from about age 7 on. The Wall Street Journal reports that adulthood doesn’t begin now until about 26. So we have a twenty-year adolescence. Is this what we want? Either for ourselves, our kids, or our society?

Something to think about.