This Christmas season for me so far has been filled with shameless hours upon hours of watching cheesy, yet wholesome Hallmark movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (that there is an RV!), The Santa Clause, and so many other classic holiday movies, of which I’ve seen too many times to count. Even so, I feel a sense of sweet familiarity each time I turn one of them on and hear distinct voices or songs that I've come to love over the years.
And then just the other evening I was watching a rerun of a sitcom from
the nineties and similar to the old, recognizable Christmas movies, I noticed
some interesting and not-too-often-seen-anymore aspects that I felt were worth noting.
For instance...let me paint the picture...
Get this. There was a telephone that the entire family used in the kitchen and, I know this will be hard to believe, but it was connected to the wall, with...wait for it..a cord. Say what??? Yep. An actual twirly cord was connected from the receiver to this square, hanging box thingy where you could dial numbers to make an outgoing call.
I know. Feel free to stop for just a moment as you allow this archaic and dinosaurs-walking-the-earth moment to sink in.
Here's another strange oddity. The family had just one TV. You heard me right. One TV. Not three or four or seven. One. And it was in the living room, which meant that everyone has to sit in the same, exact room in order to watch something on it. There was no satellite dish, no DVR, not even such technology as being able to change the channels with a remote. They actually had to get up off the couch to watch a different show.
Now this next observation is going to really throw you for a loop. Every night, the kids in the family had the job of setting the table for dinner, and together, they all sat down to eat and...(gulp) talk. Come again? They did what?
Oh, and also, the TV wasn't on in the background, nor the radio and most notably, not one, single person was staring down at their cell phones. They did nothing but eat, and then look up to stare at each other. Words would come out of their mouths which would eventually form complete sentences. From there, real, genuine, conversations ensued.
I feel your pain...it's almost too much to take in all at one time. It's like two worlds-colliding.
Now, I know this is just a TV show I'm talking about, but in reality, this is actually what my childhood consisted of as well. We had dinner every night as a family - together, in one place, at our dining room table, where my sister and I took turns setting each place and then clearing the dishes away. We had a phone on our kitchen wall with, I would guess, the longest cord known to man, of which we would twist around our fingers as we wove our way into different rooms of the house to avoid our conversations with friends being overheard. We had one TV in our living room and before the invention of that magic little remote control, it was a constant up-and-down to change the channel on the converter. Yes...the converter.
But you know what? We survived. And dare I say, flourished, even? It's true! In fact, some of my greatest memories are from lingering at that kitchen table talking and laughing, long after the dishes had been cleared.
So this Christmas, my friends, I practically beg of you to do one thing for your family. Simply take a moment or two and look UP. Look up at your family and those who are gathered around you. Look up and meet their gaze and then be keenly aware of their presence and the stories they have to share. Give yourself some much-needed permission to place those attention-stealing devices like your cell phone out of sight for a few hours. (It can be done!) Tuck it away to spend time with later on, but for just a while, curl up with a blanket and listen to the laughter. Really listen. Play a few games. Get out a deck of cards. Ask your parents or other family members about their Christmases growing up. Break bread together.
I invite you during this harried, holiday season to carve out some sweet, precious family time for the making of beautiful Christmas memories. And then take them one step further by doing something you may not have done for awhile - keep those memories for yourself - rather than for all of social media to see. Because I doubt that in ten years when we look back on our holiday's, we would want our first remembrance to be how our heads were down and buried in our devices. At least...that's not the memory I want to hold in my heart.
Look up, my friends.
And be thankful. So very thankful.