Look out, world, she's ditching the flipper.
Santa claus holding cell phone
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For years, my very Southern Mama was anti-digital, so much so that any reference to related paraphernalia would get slammed with her most derogatory prefix: that. As in that Facebook. That internet. All that texting on that phone. (Before the internet, Mama generally reserved that for your racier celebrities—like that Madonna.)

But that all changed this Christmas. The week before, right after Sunday lunch with the parents, Daddy followed me to my car and announced, “I want to get your mother one of those phones like the other ladies have.”

“You mean . . . (drum roll) a smart phone?” I queried in shock. Mama was a longtime devotee of the flip phone, which she didn’t really consider digital since it had buttons.

“Yeah, a smart phone,” Daddy said. “Can you handle that for me? Get her a red one—something pretty.”

Y’all, my sweet Daddy can go off the rails at Christmas. In his quest to get you something spectacular you didn’t realize you wanted, he sometimes gets you something you truly don’t want at all—like the expensive guitar he once gave my no-desire-to-play-one-ever husband. To me, Mama seemed perfectly happy with her flip phone. It did what she needed it to do: make calls, receive calls, and fit into her purse. Done.

The smart phone was a big, big risk—but a calculated one. We had primed the pump in previous years, first with an inexpensive laptop and then a tablet, showing Mama what all the Facebook fuss was about. While she still shies away from posting, for fear of accidentally broadcasting something that will bring the FBI to her door, she enjoys the hometown newspaper aspects of Facebook. (Notice it no longer gets a that.)

I have to say, watching Mama open her smart phone—red case and all—was the highlight of my Christmas. Her mouth flew open and her eyes lit up as she gingerly lifted it out of the box with all the care she would give one of Aunt Callie’s hand-painted china teacups.

And then the instruction began. Together, we practiced sending and receiving calls.

“Now don’t give your cousins my new number till I’m sure I know how to answer this phone,” she said. (I promised I wouldn’t.)

“And don’t show me a whole bunch o’ stuff at one time,” she said. (I didn’t.)

“Just let me get comfortable making phone calls since that’s all I’ll probably do,” she said. (I let her get comfortable making calls.)

The very next day, I received a text from Mama: “I’m learning to text!”

My cousin Grey was tutoring her.

I texted her a brief, amusing (I thought) message, which received this response: “That’s funny! We gotta go!”

For now, Mama practices texting on me—and only me. She says she doesn’t want to risk texting anybody else until she’s sure she’s doing it right. If I don’t respond quickly enough, she calls me: “Did you get my text? I just want to make sure it went through.”

Yes, ma’am. I just didn’t see it right away.

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As the calls and texts have continued, Mama’s confidence has grown. In a very short time since opening her gift, she paid the smart phone her ultimate compliment: “You know, I think I’m gonna like this thing.”

Score one for Daddy. He’s still got it.