Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tradition

When my husband and I first got married, we had a lot of goals and dreams for our family. We hoped our children would be musical. We wanted to spend a lot of time together building relationships. We wanted our family to be different, to be better than ideal.

We were poor students when we married, with very little money and lots of schooling ahead of us. He had a small old red Geo Metro, a gift from his parents after his mission. I had a little bit of college savings. We had less than $1000 to our names, probably a lot less, but we had each other and we were determined to get this marriage off right.

So it was an easy decision to not get a television. We decided we would get a piano instead. We wanted music in our home, not noise and distraction and a lot of time wasted.

One of the first things we did was pool all the money we got from our wedding, those $15 and $20 checks, along with all the money we got from taking gifts back (we really, REALLY didn't need seven large serving dishes or fancy silver platters and punch bowls). We scraped together what we had and went in search of a piano. After a few weeks of fruitless searching, we realized that most of the pianos in our price range were old, beat-up, and badly out of tune. The old and beat-up part we didn't mind; the bad sound, we did. I found an ad in the paper for used pianos and went on a Saturday to a small home in Salt Lake that was also a music studio. The man had a number of pianos, all with wonderful sound, but all just out of reach of our price. He said he found that many of their students weren't able to find decent used pianos, so they'd started finding those with good sound and fixing them up. Finally, he showed me one they'd just hauled in that day. It was in a dusty garage and was missing a few keys. I plunked out a few beautiful notes and fell in love with that little piano. The price? $450, plus $75 delivery fee. We'd been hoping to find something for much less, but the man assured me that this piano wouldn't last and I knew we had enough to pay for it.

However, since DH was home taking a test, I was left to make the first major decision of our marriage by myself. Should I take the plunge, spend $200 more than we'd talked about, and hope DH would be okay with it, or should I drive home, talk it over with him and hope the piano would still be there when we made the decision? Nervous and hopeful, I said a silent prayer and then said, "we'll take it."

DH was very gracious and great about being left out of the decision, and it was delivered to our third-floor apartment the next week. The man said for the first time, he felt like he'd really earned that $75 delivery fee, as the hairpin turns and the narrow railing in front of our apartment necessitated turning that enormous, extremely heavy, nearly 100-year-old piano in all sorts of ways, including on its side. For about ten minutes, we weren't even sure it would fit, but soon after, there it sat, a beautiful piece of symbolism and our first real piece of furniture. I felt rich. I even got better at playing through the years, though I'm still not that great.

(our piano a few weeks after it was delivered.)

We kept our "no-TV" vow for many years, even though we were offered several times someone's old set. Finally, when Lillian was two and Joey six months old, we got a small, 14 inch set with a DVD player so we could watch videos. We still didn't get any channels but we could enjoy our small but growing collection of fun family videos and check out others from the library. I still remember the first movie we bought was Stuart Little. The second was Annie.

That tiny TV served us very well for about five years, when we moved and upgraded to a huge 54 inch monster that matches large DVD collection. We did have cable for the first six months we lived here, but only because it was free with our internet package for that first little while. We both found ourselves watching it too much and were very happy when it was gone.

We do have one major exception to our "NO TV rule" and it happens every two years when the Olympics rolls around. We decided that was one event we didn't want to miss. We've handled it differently through the years. The first couple of times, we rented a television for a month. Then for a few years we used rabbit ears on our little TV, though we found out that the only room in our house that got good enough reception was our bedroom. So all of us crammed in there, hanging out on our bed every night as we watched.

(Lillian and Joey with Sarah and Allison, watching the summer Olympics, 2004)

The last time the Olympics was held was right after Harmony was born, and we simply paid for a month of TV with our internet provider.

But this time? It was almost the first time we didn't watch. Everywhere we called required a long-term commitment or an exorbitant installation fee. "Sure, we can sign you up and for a great price too! All we need is a three year commitment." Even our ISP wanted a two-year commitment, even though since the cables had already been run all it would require on their end is a simple switch.

So, we tried other options. We tried rabbit ears and a converter box. We got channel 11 with fabulous clarity, plus a couple of Spanish channels, but no luck on channel 5, the Olympic channel. My parents, in town for the weekend, decided to help by looking for longer rabbit ears. They came home with a digital rabbit ear set, and after about a five minutes of fiddling, we no longer got channel 11. A half hour more of tweaking and we got pretty darn good channel 5. Good enough for us, and we've enjoyed the last few days of watching.

Random Sidenote #1: Am I the only one who feels figure skating has lost its artistry with the new scoring system? All that constant blade-grabbing and doing tricks just for points has taken away from the grace and beauty of it. And it used to be that if someone fell, you knew they blew it. Now, they just miss the points for that one element and can still win the event. I'm not sure I like that.

Random Sidenote #2: Every time we have TV, whether at a hotel on vacation or while we watch the Olympics, I'm always so grateful we don't have it. It's not the programs; usually, there are tons of interesting and fascinating ones. It's the commercials -- Viagra ads come to mind, as do the many advertisements for shows that are obviously not for kids or for thinking adults. (I know, I know, you TiVo so you never have to watch those things).

What are your family's traditions? Are you watching the Olympics? How do you handle TV in your family?


10 comments:

Mostly Diane said...

We have never had cable unless we have had it for free for some reason (Which we do right now.) We always LOVE watching the olympics too, and have always found some way to get reception/cable just for that. But my kids are not allowed to watch TV/movies on school nights, except during the olympics or if they are sick enough that I do no want them to get up. We had a FHE about modesty and then watched the couples skating with all their immodest costumes on Monday. It was funny hearing all the kids comments on the immodesty of the skaters and how bad that is. But I am afraid we are totally computer game junkies and it does keep them from practicing piano and reading good books. In fact, I was planning on having a parent/kid meeting about piano practice today after school.

Emiline said...

This was so neat. Thank you for sharing. I am a new member, baptized in September, and have lots of family-ness to learn and catch up on - what a great example I found in your blog. Thank you!

~ Emily

www.housewifeclass.blogspot.com

Joy For Your Journey said...

We have never had cable--something my kids thought was positively archaic. And although there was a time when my family watched a lot of TV, no one watches now (with the exception of the Olympics and a few sporting events. We also watch DVDs) I hate having the TV on and agree with you--the commercials are awful. For that reason alone I won't watch it.

Joy For Your Journey said...

Thanks also for your offer to help us out while I am up here. That was really sweet of you. I think we are doing fine though. My sister has been dropping dinner by the house for us to eat when we get home. You are so nice to think of us. I am positive people who blog are the nicest people out there. :-)

famr_4evr said...

We do have a TV, and now we have cable (just the basics as we don't get any channels here, well, sometimes we get channel 11). Before we moved up here, we didn't have cable. We just watched movies. That was mainly for nap time and Friday nights (we sleep in the front room, after watching a movie).
We also don't let the kids watch on school nights. Unless there is an assignment to watch something. (I know, what are the teachers teaching?!? But the assignments have actually opened my eyes a few times.)
We do have a piano. We love music. I play the flute, and DH the sax. The older 3 play violin, viola, violin. Hoping to start DS 6 on the piano soon.

Lisa6Kids said...

I refuse to watch the figure skating anymore. Like you said, it has lots it's grace and beauty and to me is just technical now. I find it sad. :(

Sandi said...

We do not have cable and I am glad we made the break from it a long time back. We would never get it again. There are so many more important things to do with our time.

I still watch the figure skating but it always feels as though they have someone picked out. I don't enjoy the new scoring system and think it has made the sport have less heart.

Kim said...

I love your Olympic tradition! We are huge olympic fans. DH worked for SLOC when the games were here and we've had Olympic fever ever since. So much so that we took our family and went up to Vancouver to see them last week. They were fantastic. I'll try to blog about it tonight when the kids are in bed.
I was thinking about you this morning actually. I help a neighbor out by tending 2 of her kids twice a week. This morning I had my 3 boys home from school because we overslept (I guess our 15 hour drive home yesterday wore us out) so there were 7 kids 10 and under. It was fun, but very busy. You are a good woman!

Maryanne said...

I remember when you rented a TV for the Olympics when we were in the same ward. We got our first TV in Iowa so we could watch movies. A few years ago we got rabbit ears, so now we get PBS (and some gospel channels). I really don't like the ads either (especially after reading a book about advertising to kids called Born to Buy) and the only time the kids get them is that we let them watch some Saturday morning cartoons on some non-PBS channel. I feel they watch too much overall, but I'm glad that I don't have cable or many channels so I can pretty easily control what they have access to.

Maryanne said...

I remember when you rented a TV for the Olympics when we were in the same ward. We got our first TV in Iowa so we could watch movies. A few years ago we got rabbit ears, so now we get PBS (and some gospel channels). I really don't like the ads either (especially after reading a book about advertising to kids called Born to Buy) and the only time the kids get them is that we let them watch some Saturday morning cartoons on some non-PBS channel. I feel they watch too much overall, but I'm glad that I don't have cable or many channels so I can pretty easily control what they have access to.

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