Taming the Media Beast in your Home
by Linore Rose Burkard
Does your home have more noise, confusion, mixed messages, commercials, or tasteless junk coming from the airwaves than you'd like? Computer, TV, radio, video games, CD's and DVD's-no matter how careful we try to be, there are still "leaks" allowing things in our personal spaces that we don't really like. There's a name for this onslaught of worldly messages and political correctness-it's called, the Media Beast! And our best efforts to stop it from gaining access to the minds and hearts of our families sometimes seems hopeless. Even "children's" books can be the source of some of the worst messages-ie., stuff that we don't want to teach our kids (such as the infamous, "Heather Has Two Mommies").
Fear not: The holiday season presents the perfect time to tame the media beast in your home. There is no period of the year that is more conducive to getting together as a family and sharing what we watch, hear, or read. I have two suggestions that all families can-and should-- try, at least during the holidays, if no other time of the year.
#1: Have a "19th Century night" once or more each week. With the exception of Christmas lights, turn off all other electronics: the TV, computer, games, etc. If you have a fireplace this is the time to USE it! If outdoor wood is not available for burning have some store-bought fire "logs" ready for the occasion. Hunker down together in one room, making sure everyone is comfortable. Hot cocoa, mulled cider, or non-alcoholic eggnog make the perfect libation. Popcorn, Christmas cookies, or anything your family likes to nosh on should be available. Candles-so long as they are not accessible to small children-are a wonderful atmosphere enchancer. If not practical for you, then substitute flashlights.
Once everyone is cozy, read a Christmas story together. Some are ageless, and even reluctant teens will end up getting involved in them, such as "A Christmas Carol." Very young children will enjoy shorter selections and there are abundant offerings to choose from; in fact, this is true for all ages. Alternatives to reading aloud together are listening to holiday stories on tape or cassette, and of course, watching a holiday movie, my second suggestion, which I'll discuss in a moment. Young children should be allowed to color or play quietly while listening to audio tapes or longer stories read aloud. (A side-benefit of having a "19th Century Night" is that it becomes a great memory for the kids later on.)
Have a Merry Movies Night. During the holidays my family does this as often as possible. First, be sure that all homework is finished, projects worked on, and baths accomplished. Once everyone is ready, get comfortable and pop in a wholesome Christmas movie. (Beware of modern remakes, and never assume that because the word "Christmas" is in the title that the movie will be a good one, or appropriate for all ages.) We have nights when we do a few cartoon classics such as, "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," Snoopy and the gang, or Rudolph. Other nights we pick an old film classic, and sometimes we try a more modern one ("Christmas with the Kranks," "Elf"). For some tried and true movie ideas, check my holiday picks page on my website. This is the time to add to your collection of good films-and they make great family gifts, too!
The benefit of doing family nights are manifold: first, everyone is together! For families with older kids, being together gets harder as interests spread and commitments take children from the home. Second: You can control, or at least have a large say in what form of media is getting everyone's attention (make it wholesome and fun). Finally, you won't be passively allowing the "media beast" to trample on you or your family-not this year, not this time!
Have a warm and wonderful, wholesome and happy Christmas!
Linore Rose Burkard is an Inspirational Romance author with a special interest in the Regency, although she also writes contemporary fiction. She lives in Ohio with her husband and five children. Author Profile
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