Monday, December 13, 2010

The tyranny of the television

My daughter suggested we go to church on Saturday night this week, and so we did. This provided the opportunity for all of us to be home yesterday with nothing on the agenda. 

Feeling festive, I decided to put on some Christmas music. I fired up the xbox and browsed the music collection on the attached hard drive (some years ago we imported all of our CD's into iTunes, and I put those files on a drive attached to the xbox for music in our living room) and selected 252 songs for the day, and then turned the tv off and let the music play through the stereo.

With music playing, I started reading. After a while the first request came "daddy, can I play xbox?" to which I replied no, we were listening to music. An hour later another request for xbox and/or television came, and the response was the same.

What happened next was amazing. My son shows up with a baseball and bat, and asks if I will throw him pitches. We haven't done that in MONTHS. After doing that for a while we played tetherball, and then I came inside and continued reading. Jacob wasn't done, so he rounded up his sister, and they played tetherball together for what feels like the first time ever. 

With the tv off, jacob started playing with legos (to be fair he does this a lot) and my daughter did all sorts of things that she doesn't normally do because she couldn't watch tv or play video games. I was struck by how many good things our family did when the television is not available. 

Had we had the tv on, I probably would have watched a football game I don't care about, or watched some old episodes of top gear or who knows what. Instead I decided to go through a HUGE stack of magazines that I've been wanting to read and get rid of for ages. I probably breezed through about 2000 pages of magazines (no joke. I read fast and only read the stuff I cared about) throughout the day, in between cleaning, cooking, playing baseball, etc. 

It's not that we sit around and watch tv all the time, but it is amazing what happens when that option is removed from the list of choices. It seems like the house comes alive in a magical way.

We had already decided to turn the tv off for the month of January, and after Sunday, that can't come soon enough. 


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