...is a time machine. That's all... just one basic model, functional, reliable, user-friendly time machine. Sure, I'll take pretty if I can get it, but I don't really need the fuss of all that leather, brass, and crystal ornamentation, a la H. G. Wells. Simple is okay.
Time machine image courtesy of Danny Cardle, artist and creator of Visual Engineering
Forget for a moment, if you will, about asking if a time machine is plausible, or just plain crazy. Forget the fact that Santa can't possibly fit it into my stocking. Shoot, he probably can't even fit it into his sleigh.
I'm not really asking for much. It doesn't even have to go into the future: we'll leave exploration of that to genealogists and historians who will come later on. I just want to be able to travel purposefully and selectively into the past, as any historian dreams about.
Oh, the people and the sights I would see! The questions I would ask! The notes I would take! A time machine would provide hour after hour of useful entertainment. It's such a good idea for a present... so, well, educational.
For starters, I'd like to go back to about 1917 and meet my grandmother at just the time when she was tying the knot with Grampa. "Howdy-do," I'd say. "I'm your long, lost granddaughter. And by the way, lay off that cow's milk, will you please?"
If Grandma hadn't drunk cow's milk, she probably wouldn't have gotten T.B. If Grandma hadn't caught T.B., my mother wouldn't have been orphaned so young, and perhaps she wouldn't have been left with such a complex, and maybe (just maybe), I would have gotten yelled at a little less. I'm kidding of course. Mom's done a fine job, but I sure have missed the particular pampering of a grandmother all these years, not to mention the extra Christmas cookies and overnight stays.
All I want is one basic, easy-to-use time machine. I'll clean and oil it regularly, and make regular insurance payments... promise.