Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Today at our house, we have a teensy bit of school to check off, then it's on to pre-holiday cleaning. Hopefully, the housework will be finished by this afternoon - I need time to make a grocery list so that I can get out early tomorrow to do my shopping. Then, noon tomorrow, our first batch of relatives arrive for a shared lunch and some holiday visiting! Maybe Diane can help cook desserts for Thursday's family dinner while the kids are out playing...

One thing I love about the holidays is having a break from the routine. It's nice to rest from school/chores/work, and linger instead over a late breakfast. Or pass an hour working on a jigsaw puzzle with a relative, enjoying a leisurely chat. Or take a walk back on the farm to work off some of that turkey and dressing.

But one thing I hate about the holidays is the break from the routine. Actually, it's just the break from our "technology routine" that I dislike. Let me explain....

We have a weekly family movie night at our house. Everyone sits down together, usually on Friday evening after dinner, and watches a movie. If it's a walkie-talkie (lots of dialogue, little action), the boys bellyache a little...and then watch the movie with the rest of us anyway. I think maybe it's part of the Man Code to gripe about movies that could be tagged as "girl" movies, even if they're really fantastic films. If it's a movie with lots of explosions and flashing images and no apparent plot, we girls moan and groan a little. I mean, really, how many electronic images can a human brain actually process in a nanosecond? But we girls stick it out. It's part of the give-and-take of family life.

But during the holidays, something peculiar happens. With a little more free time on our hands, our weekly movie night has a tendency to transform into a movie marathon. When we're together with extended family, a TV is constantly flashing somewhere in the house. It's not unusual to find a pile of kids plopped on Grammy's living room floor, eyes glazed, zoned out from watching one movie after another.

Never mind movies....what about sports shows? While the kids are boobed out with the latest cheesy Disney flick, the adults struggle to have half-conversations around pre-game commentary and instant replays. Non-stop sports broadcasting is one Thanksgiving tradition I have never been able to acclimate to. Is it humanly possible to sit down and watch a football game, one football game - I mean really watch the game, beginning to end - and then turn off the TV?

And then, there are the gaming systems. PlayStation at our house is normally limited to a few hours Friday afternoon, after the week's schoolwork is completed, and Saturday afternoon, after chores. But on the holidays? Video games compete with non-stop movies for screen time. "Kids, you've been in here watching TV long enough! Turn off the movie and play a game!" No problem. Unplug a few wires here, plug in a few wires there, and they've moved on to NCAA Football or Wii Cow Racing. AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!

All this to say, with relaxed routines and schedules temporarily thrown out the window, technology has a tendency to creep-creep-creep, consuming more of our time, more of our lives. The movies, the sports, the games...it is all subtle, seductive, mesmerizing, and HARD to resist.

I want to encourage you, moms and dads, if it's in your power to do so - do something radical this Thanksgiving. Help your family wake up from their electronic stupor and breathe the free air. Freeze the creep.

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