It’s the day after Christmas and my living room still looks like it has been ravaged by a herd of stampeding “Give Me All Your Christmas Presents” wild elephants. Boxes, paper, and crushed bows are flung willy-nilly all over the place, and do you know who has to clean it all up? That’s right – the wife, ‘cause I ain’t moving from the couch until I finish writing this story.
But I really don’t want to talk about my problems today. I want to talk about your problems. That’s right, I know all about them. I see them in your eyes. Because even though the glow of Christmas Day is still on your cheeks (and floor), you’re looking ahead toward the upcoming new year and wondering just how the heck you can make it better than the old one.
Well my friend, here’s my suggestion for making 2011 the best year of your life: Turn off the television.
“You heard what the man said, Harold. Turn off that television and come help me wash the dishes.”
“Huh? That wacko didn’t say anything about washing dishes, Maude. He said turn off the TV and that’s exactly what I’m going to do – after I watch the big game, then “The Wheel,” and after that my favorite shows, ‘cause ain’t nobody gonna make me miss my favorite shows, not to mention the news, and then Letterman. Can’t live without Letterman, and you know that, Maude.”
Yep, I know it’s hard; I know it’s out of the ordinary; I know it’s just down-right heresy in some households, but turning off the television is the first step in turning back the clock to the “good old days,” when people used their imaginations to entertain themselves in order to get their minds off the fact that air conditioning hadn’t been invented yet.
My family and I have been TV-free since 12 June 2009. That was the day analog TV went digital, leaving us marooned in the frozen wasteland of nothing to watch but TV snow. Not that I’m complaining. I like snow. And I much prefer watching TV snow over paying a monthly cable fee for something that I used to get for free.
But that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that our lifestyle has completely changed. We are no longer subjugated by an electronic device that spews out 15 minutes of hard-sell advertising per every 45 minutes of mediocre entertainment. We no longer base our weekly schedule on what we “must see” or “can’t miss.” We are free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, or just sit and stare at each other like grandma and grandpa did before they bought their 52-inch widescreen high-definition TV.
Of course, I would be remiss in saying that the Farr family is the only non-TV family in the world, because we’re not. There are millions of people who have banished broadcast television from their homes. They are honest, law-abiding people just like you and me. They live in our communities. Their children go to our schools. They spend Sundays in church, except they don’t rush home after the sermon to spend the rest of their weekend glued to The Tube, or what I call “Farnsworth’s Folly.”
(FYI: Philo Farnsworth invented the first TV in 1928. The very first TV ad was for Bulova Watches which appeared in 1941. The last thing I saw on analog TV was a Jonas Brothers concert, and I still feel like gouging out my eyeballs.)
So what do we do instead of turning on the set? Lots of things. Read books, play games, exercise, try out new recipes, write poetry, fish, take photographs, feed the goats, chase the goats, threaten to turn the goats into sausage, write stories, play music, and spend a lot of time on the computer looking up other things to do besides watching television.
But my favorite activity is thinking of ways to avoid doing those things my wife thinks I should be doing, like cleaning up this Christmas-bombarded living room mess.
“Dear, I won’t be able to help you clean up this mess,” I say. “I really need to go to Lowe’s to pick up some more batteries for these toys. I have no idea when I’ll be back.”
“That’s okay, Honey. I’ll wait,” she says. “I wouldn’t dream of cleaning up this mess without you.”
And that, my friends, is the end of this story.