OK, I admit that we're cheap. When the DTV transition hit, we waited and waited to get a converter box, only to discover that our semi-rural location doesn't pick up many stations anyway. Are we going to get cable or satellite or even high-speed Internet? No way! I'm not shelling out fifty bucks a month for that junk. But now that we have a life without TV, I'm finding that there are quite a few things that I miss.
I miss the commercials, especially during the holidays. My kids and I have absolutely no idea what the latest Tickle-Me-Cabbage-Patch 360 is this year. How will we ever keep up with the fashion trends? What if there's a Thigh-Master out there that will change my life? We will never know. And the kids are so quiet that I worry about them. They used to run around the house chanting "Gimme, gimme, gimme."
I miss the news. No matter how passive I ever became in front of the TV, I could guarantee that the first five minutes of the news would get my heart racing and my blood pressure rising. It was like an aerobic workout, sitting down. I'm sure the veins popping on my neck could only mean more oxygen to my brain, right?
I miss the celebrities. I have no idea who is cheating on his wife, or who is breaking up with whom. And who went into rehab this week? Now that I'm out of touch with pop culture, I wonder, "Who are these people, anyway?" I no longer even know why they're so important.
I miss the mental stimulation that ensues when I wrestle with the question, "Is this program appropriate for my children to watch?" Sometimes the arguments were the most conversation I could get out of my children all day. "How was school?" "Fine. Oh, wait! I want to watch that! What is he doing to her? Don't turn it off!"
I miss the time-wasting. Now when the kids are bored, they have to put in a little work to climb out of boredom. We have so much free time that we don't know what to do with ourselves. Should we read a book? Bake cookies? Do a craft? Play a board game? Tackle homework or chores? (That last idea was just wishful thinking.)
The thing I don't miss, because we still do it all the time, is sitting down with the family in front of the TV. Even without broadcast programs, we still watch a lot. There is always something classic waiting at the library, or perhaps it's my turn in line for the latest blockbuster movie to come out on DVD. (Sigh, I'm usually number 393 out of 400 for only two copies in the library. But we do eventually get to see it for free.) If we check out a movie or show we really like and we know that we will watch it over and over, we can put it on our "used bookstore" list. Also, neighbors loaned us all the old Twilight Zone episodes, and my goosebumps-loving daughter is thrilled to be clutching my arm as we watch them. Additionally, we bought an old game system at a garage sale, and the kids crowd onto the couch, cheering each other on. Not all the video games are "first-person shooter," you know. We went to the used game store and traded in the games we didn't want like Mortal Street Fury for cooperative ones like Animal Crossing.
The important thing that I never want to miss is quality time as a family.
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