Christmas Live and on TV

How much of your Christmas is live?  How much is on television?  Of course it’s all live even if all you are doing is watching television.  Except if you are the Steelers fan who was laid out dead in the funeral home as if he were at home watching football on tv… because he was actually dead, which hardly qualifies as “live.”

So back to “live” television.  There was an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday, entitled “Chestnuts roasting on the high-def screen.” In it, Hank Stuever wrote about how “everything we know about how Christmas should appear and feel, we learned from watching Christmas happen on TV to people who don’t exist.”

He debates whether the totems of Christmas should be segregated in homes, with the “live” things like Christmas trees and stockings in one area and the television, where everyone will gather to “experience” Christmas by watching idealized shows, housed in another room.

Though I think it can be a fun tradition to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “Charlie Brown Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I also find Stuever’s sense of inevitability terribly depressing.  Writing of the year that cable TV emerged and the fact that opening presents on December 25 was the only TV-free zone that year, he says, “But at some point someone turned it on; someone always does.  What is Christmas without the sound of sports announcers and instant-reply swooshes?  What is an advent season without the ritual of anticipatory TV — Charlie Brown and Rankin/Bass and Rockefeller Center and the Food Network, all connected by a gooey concoction of commercials?Sometimes we complain about this.  (Q: What did you do for Christmas?  A: We watched too much TV.)”

This hearkens back to my post last week, “How Can TV Be the Ultimate Excitement?”, and I’m still asking the questions about what would get us into actual interactions with each other, particularly in families, instead of simply passively watching something together or doing what toddlers do, parallel play?  What a heavy question.

All of the freight behind it and before it (if we are to try to amend the pattern societally) makes me tired.  It makes me simply say, “NO wonder we watch TV.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It’s just a pernicious habit.  Try detoxing from TV.  It’s surprisingly fun to do other things.  Keep your expectations low. Have a sense of humor.  Or have a TV-free hour or zone.

What about the lost art of conversation.  Let’s start with baby steps.  Go buy a Table Topics “game” which is full of questions to provoke good conversation.  Sometimes families need a jump-start or a fresh approach.  After all if you simply turn to a sibling and say, “I’ve always wondered what your favorite book is,” you will be seen as bizarre.  Why now?  Why did you never care before?  Why the false jollity and interest?  But if you have to ask or answer that question because you drew that card in the Table Topics deck, you’ll likely learn things and go deeper.

And if the question is “What’s your favorite Christmas special on TV,” and everyone begins waxing nostalgic, run for the TV room and have a family watch-fest.  It’s traditional.


~ by Cary on December 13, 2010.

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