Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a Screen-Free Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Lay cameras and cell phones and computers sans mouse.

The illustrations of that Christmas classic would look vastly different these days with all the digital paraphanelia we use to keep our lives moving. By the time my family assembles for an event, we often have at least three laptops in addition to our desktop downstairs, a handful of blackberries, and a menagerie of cameras. On the one hand, this technology is a blessing because it allows my dad to maintain his business from a geographical distance and keeps us all in touch with our various social networks and life obligations. On the other hand, it can also feel like we're all simply sharing space in the house without actually being present. Conversation can only go so far when folks are engrossed in a screen, and the kids, above all, sense this divided attention.

And then where's the break? The rest? The pause from the daily grind? The hours to simply enjoy the presence and company of those gathered in our midst? I, too, am guilty of escaping into the computer, of tuning out of my surroundings by tuning into e-mail or Facebook or the latest story on some network. Somehow, there is respite in being plugged in.

But I don't think it's as restful, as soothing to the soul as being engaged with our nearest and dearest. So this year, I think I'll propose a screen-free Christmas. No computers. No blackberries. Just us and the kids and the joy of celebrating together. We'll keep the cameras, of course, to capture the magic of the day for the kids. But I'm hoping we'll all be mentally present in addition to physically present from the very first moments when the kids awake to the time we all retire to our beds, happily exhausted from the festivities.

To that end, I think I'll keep this space quiet for a few days as I settle in for a precious few days with those little and big. And I wish you and yours the sweetest of holidays, too, whether you're anticipating the man in the big red suit or celebrating the incarnation of Divine Love--or, like us, both.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

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