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A Christmas First

Last week was my birthday (I won’t tell you which one), and for my gift, my wife signed us up for cable TV. Before you shrug and say, “So what?”, let me give you a little background on this epic occurrence…

There has not been television in my house for the past 17 years. That’s not a typo. When we first bought the house, there were various technical reasons why we couldn’t get TV reception without the expense and hassle of extra equipment. Bette and I decided that with five children, we had enough going on in our lives without the added distraction of television. We still had a TV set for watching movies, but our house went 17 years without a single sitcom, cartoon, or commercial.

It was a bit of an adjustment for the kids at first, but after a while, no one seemed to miss it. They did sports, band, choir, and homework (when we nagged them). They read, painted, played outside, and cared for a menagerie of pets. And while many households have no problem in balancing their kids’ TV time with the rest of real life, I certainly appreciated that TV wasn’t even there to argue over. It gave us one less thing to worry about.

Now, of course, the kids are all grown and gone, and though we are relieved of monitoring homework and bedtimes, I still found myself hesitant to add TV back into our lives. Although I appreciated Bette’s thoughtful gift, I feared becoming part of those horrendous TV-watching statistics you always hear about (4 hours a day for the average American! Are you kidding me?!).

But, as my family pointed out, finally having cable TV will have its perks. Now we don’t have to invade my sister’s house for every BSU football game. I can watch the Packers, March Madness, Cardinal’s baseball, and next winter Olympics, we won’t have to miss the US vs. Canada gold medal hockey game because broadcast TV is only showing figure skating.

Still, I worried how TV might change our day-to-day lives and affect my interactions with my loved ones. On my birthday, my family took me out to dinner, then we returned home for presents, cake, and the obligatory singing. As my daughter left that evening, she said, “See, dad? No one turned the TV on all night. It doesn’t have to really change anything.”

So I guess that even though this will be my family’s first Christmas with TV in 17 years, it won’t really be anything that new at all. Our priorities continue to be each other. Merry Christmas, and keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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