spent Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law and their little ones in their 1890′s Victorian home in Texas. My daughter homeschools her children. The eldest, now eleven, has ”graduated” from homeschool and is in sixth grade at a private school and is thriving socially and academically.
One evening my two oldest granddaughters asked my sister and me to play a game in which you draw cards with fantasy dreams such as “an indoor swimming pool” or “a visit to the Eiffel Tower.” For four players, four cards are drawn and each player discards one card, the fantasy dream least suited to the other players. The challenge is to give the remaining cards to the player that will value it the most — points range from 3 to 1. The player with the most points wins. It’s a fun game, full of surprises. “You’d rather have a cottage on the beach than a trip to Italy?” a player might ask. “Yes, that way I’d have a year-round vacation,” someone might answer. The game promotes lively discussion.
I drew a card whose fantasy dream was an appearance on Oprah’s show and gave it to my sister. Ecstatic, she immediately awarded this card three points. My nine-year old granddaughter turned to her and asked, “Who’s Oprah?”
“Who’s Oprah?” my sister and I repeated to one another, mouths agape. Later we reflected that the family uses their tv (out of sight in an upstairs den) essentially to view movies. They do not watch television at ALL. Oprah, herself, who paradoxically does not espouse watching television would be proud. (It was Gail who insisted the guest rooms at her palatial Santa Barbara home have televisions because unlike Oprah, guests watch tv.)
I got to thinking how television has taken over our family life. If it’s always on during family time, it’s like another member of the family. At my daughter’s, evenings are truly family time where parents or older siblings read to the younger children and all play games.
Evenings seemed magical in their living room, the Christmas tree sparkling in the bay window. I imagined Christmas back in the 1800′s — the family together enjoying each other’s company, providing their own entertainment. Children grow up so fast. Don’t deprive yourself or them the time to enjoy them.