Monday, April 24, 2006

Just Say No

This week is one of my favorite weeks.

It’s “Turn Your TV Off” Week. I think it would be great to change the name to “Turn Off the TV, Find Out There Is More To Life Than Staring At Some Box, Enjoy Your Family and See How Beautiful This World That God Gave Us Truely Is.” But that’s just me.

I’ve mentioned before here that we don’t have TV. I mean, we have a TV, but we don’t have any cable connection, so all we get on it are a few of the stations and whatever movies we play on our DVD. Our TV has been relegated to the basement, out of sight – out of mind. And that is just the way we like it.

The main reason for this determined dismissal of television is because (let the truth be known) I am addicted to it. If a TV is on, I will watch it. I cannot help but be attracted to the sights and sounds displayed on it, no matter what show is playing. It matters not if it is something that I despise – wrestling, golf, Desperate Housewives. (Yes I am completely aware that I made a few enemies with that comment.) If we are in a restaurant and there is a TV in the background, I am constantly battling myself to pay attention to the people with whom I am conversing. I have this unhealthy draw that pulls me in and refuses to let me go.

I hate this aspect of myself. I cannot explain why the attraction is there, why it is such a conflict in my mind. I feel like the mosquito attracted to the Bug Light. "It's so beautiful to look at.... I can't help it...." So I feel that the best thing to do for myself is to remove myself from it. I will not let TV control me. And I am so much happier for it.

The second reason is that I feel that there is not much on TV that is worth watching. I can’t find many shows that are uplifting to faith and beliefs. Please don’t hear that I am saying that all TV is evil. Extreme Home Makeover, cooking shows/how to shows, even a few sitcoms that I’ve tried out recently (some episodes Life With Bonnie and Everybody Loves Raymond)… I am saying that there is not a whole lot that I deem for myself or my children as worthwhile. God gave specific instructions to flee from sexual immorality and to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. We have found that for the most part, Hollywood does not support me in these thoughts, so we stay away.

The third reason that TV is not a big deal in our house is the fact that we believe that there is more to life than sitting on our rumps doing nothing and letting someone do the thinking for us. Did you know that, statistically, people who watch a lot of television experience proportionally more obesity, depression, consumerism, and debt? Children who watch a lot of television are also more violent, don’t do as well in school and beg their parents for more toys and clothes. That last one alone is enough reason for me not to let my kids be glued to the TV. I don’t hear “I want, buy me or can I have” all the time.

Another reason for no TV is it is expensive, outrageously so. We could feed a small country with the amount that people spend to have those channels every month. I’ve got more important things on which to spend that money… like toilet paper, jeans for my kids and Bible camp this summer. TV’s just too expensive for my thrifty nature.

Lastly, the reason we don’t watch TV is because I want to enjoy the time I have with those I love. My greatest memories have nothing to do with watching some television show. They do, however, involve time playing outside or with friends, playing a game with my family, or chasing my kids around the house. I can recall times when I’ve bowled, played a game of volleyball, or visited a museum. I remember some great times talking with friends, sharing a pie and coffee, and playing card games. I’ve had some of the best conversations about books, opinions and theories. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if all I did was watch TV…

So there you have it. This is my encouragement to you to turn the “nothing” box off and spend just one week doing things with your family or for yourself. If you are like most people and think “What am I going to do with them for a whole week?” here are a few suggestions:

  1. Go to the library and check out some books to read. (But no movies!) You can read to your kids or just sit around together and spend time increasing your own mental development.
  2. Pull out some jigsaw puzzles and work on them throughout the week. You don’t have to finish it in one night. There is something really neat about developing the patience to complete the task over time.
  3. Play hide and seek with your kids.
  4. Go back to some “old fashioned” games. Go buy some jacks or marbles and enjoy the carefree games. Pull out Clue, Yatzee or some dominoes and play some games.
  5. Read the Bible out loud to your family.
  6. Make a pie together. After it is done, eat together and sit around the table and talk about things that seem to get lost in the daily shuffle. Share a favorite story with your children.
  7. Take a walk together. Look at the new flowers, find “things” in the clouds, say hello to your neighbors.
  8. Write a letter to a friend or to a family member. A real letter… on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp. This is becoming a lost art in this email society. Think about how you feel when you receive a letter in the mail that is not computer printed, that is not a bill, that is personal and intimate. If you don’t get those, perhaps you could start the trend and make someone else’s day. (I do this one with my kids. They love getting mail and it is worth the few minutes of time it took to write it out and the 37¢ it took to send it. My daughter has kept the letters she has received. The smile alone is worth it all.)
  9. Invite friends over and sit on the back porch and talk.
  10. Pray for each member of your family, naming them one by one. Notice the differences or the blessings that come from bringing them before the Lord. Notice how much better you will feel towards them.

If you have a suggestion for things to do, please post them in the comments. This is one post that I would love to see full of suggestions for each of us to try.

And try the no TV thing for a week. You don’t have to decide to quit forever, just decide to quit for a week and see what happens. You may find that you really like life without cable.

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