By BOB URBAN

burban@tnonline.com [1]

Raising children has become a lot more intricate in the past 40 years.

Back then, there was no such thing as recalls.

Today, you can't go a week without some brand of crib or baby-related items being recalled by the manufacturer. It makes you wonder how our kids ever survived their early years.

For instance, just in the last week here are two such recalls:

Baby Hammocks: Three Sisters Toys Inc. is recalling Yayita Baby Hammocks sold by Three Sisters Toys online from December 2007 July 2008. The hammock can flip over, posing a serious fall hazard and strangulation hazard to infants who become entrapped in the seat's restraint straps while upside down. The recalled baby hammock is a cream-colored canvas and hangs from a wooden pole. "La Siesta" is printed on a tag located below the restraint straps. Model number YABN-1 is printed on a white tag sewn into the hammock's side seam. Consumers should contact Three Sisters Toys, 888-537-9293, www.threesisterstoys.com [2], to receive a full refund.

Pacifiers: Grand World Inc. is recalling "Bobby Chupete" Pacifiers sold November 2004 July 2009. The pacifiers fail to meet federal safety standards. The pacifier mouth guard is too small, posing a choking hazard. This recall involves "Bobby Chupete" pacifiers. The pacifiers have a ring-shaped handle and heart-shaped mouth guard with two ventilation holes. "Bobby Chupete" and a picture of an infant are printed on the pacifier's packaging. The pacifier was sold in aqua, red, white or yellow colors. Consumers should contact Grand World, 718-326-7786, www.grandworldinc.com [3], for a refund or a replacement pacifier.

Then there was a recall of two and a half million cribs, a kind where the side comes down. Babies could get their heads caught and suffocate.

As soon as we read about it, and before it hit the 6 o'clock news, we checked out the brand name of the crib we have set up for our grandson. Thankfully it wasn't on the recall list.

Just in case you weren't feeling too old today, this might change your mind.

The people who started college this fall were born in 1992. I have a car that old.

They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

The CD was introduced two years before they were born. I'm still trying to figure out how a VCR works.

They have always had an answering machine. What did we do before they came along? We called back later, that's what we did.

They have always had cable. Most area residents have had cable their entire lives. After all, here is where it was invented.

Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show.

Popcorn has always been microwaved. I can remember being a kid and popping popcorn on an open fire while on a camping trip.

They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.

They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.

They never heard: 'Where's the Beef?', 'I'd walk a mile for a Camel ' or 'de plane Boss, de plane'.

McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers.

They don't have a clue how to use a typewriter. I just got rid of my old Selectric about a year ago.

Way back, when I was a youngster growing up in Coaldale, there was a tradition that was unique, as well as uplifting.

Beginning on Thanksgiving night, and continuing through Christmas, loud speakers, mounted on top of the high school, serenaded the entire community with Christmas music, from twilight until about 9 o'clock at night. No matter if you lived next door to the school (like I did), or on the other side of town, you could hear all the carols, putting all of us in the Christmas spirit.

Remembering those times is probably what irritated me the most when I read this Associated Press story last week.

It makes you wonder whatever happened to our priorities.

The story reports that children won't be signing religious songs over the Christmas holiday in one New Jersey school district.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld the Maplewood-South Orange school district's ban on celebratory religious music.

The three-judge panel said constitutional principles require public schools to remain strictly secular environments.

The court said public school administrations can determine which songs are appropriate according to constitutional guidelines to create a secular "inclusive environment."

Parent Michael Stratechuk in 2004 sued, saying the ban violated the First Amendment's freedom of worship provision.

His lawyer, Robert Muise. told The Star-Ledger of Newark and Record of Bergen County's Statehouse Bureau he'll ask the court to rehear the case and may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oh, Holy night. Where are we headed?