Monday, 12 December 2016

*Christmas Telly: Tune in Together*

                    Remember when the only screen in your home was a shared TV?

I'M GOING to go out on a limb here and declare that Christmas is the best time of the year for telly. 

There are tonnes of reasons why the advent - pun intended - of seasonal movies and fun quizzes, bring a warm, fuzzy feeling. 

And they're not what you might imagine. For a start, I'm not actually a telly addict. In fact, days might pass where I don't even switch it on. Those days, admittedly, tend to be a bit of a blur, but I digress.

Watching TV by oneself is never half as enjoyable.

Nor do I cheat by tuning into other screens. I don't have Netflix (yes, I know), and I don't know how to stream movies or series. Is that even legal? I haven't a clue.

Because for me, part of the enjoyment of watching TV, is the ritual. It goes a bit like this:

1. Choose the programme.

2. Get the work/cooking/running around after family/ordering around said family, organised in time to watch the programme.

3. Ensure the fire is lit, the room is tidy and the lighting perfect. Think warm glow of table lamps; none of your 'big lights', thanks very much.

4. Boil the kettle and make tea. Popcorn desirable, but not essential.

I'm a simple person.

TV time meant the whole, rowdy family sitting in the one room.

But it's not quite enough. And here's the crunch.
Watching TV by oneself is never half as enjoyable, as watching it with other people.

As a child, watching TV by oneself was rarely an option. There was one screen in the house. It came with a maximum of four to six channels (but only if you lived in Dublin). I know a lot of people who grew up in Two-Channel-Land: our national stations.

TV time meant the whole, rowdy family sitting in the one rom, arguing with the chat show host,  shouting encouragement to the hero in the thriller, squirming at the kiss-y bits in the romance, as our parents carefully avoided eye contact.

Now, the sight of a whole family coming together to watch the same thing on TV, is so rare, that it's not just a thing, it's a phenomenon. It has a name: shared media.

Which brings me back to Christmas TV. And why its importance in this part of the world, can't be overstated. Well, it can, obviously, but bear with me.

Unlike many of our European neighbours, Irish people get substantial Christmas holidays. Of course, these exclude our fantastic essential services people (GardaĆ­, medical people) and rather sadly, retailers, who barely get a break at all.

TV programmers tend to put a lot of thought into their scheduling.

But our schools break up around December 22. The new terms don't begin until after Little Christmas on January 6.

Most industries break up around the same time as the schools, and generally speaking, people are off until January 2.

So TV programmers tend to put a lot of thought into their scheduling, with the result that you'll get a fair mix of old favourites, new movies and plenty of Christmas specials over the period.

And there's more of a chance that I'll get The Eldest, The Middle One and The Boy to sit and watch with me. Even if it means that the older two are also on their phones, chatting to friends on Facebook.

Usually about whatever lame movie from the dinosaur era that their mother is making them watch. But I'm a patient person.

Last year, I managed to persuade The Boy to watch It's A Wonderful Life. I watch it every year. The Boy didn't quite get it: it didn't make a lot of sense, he said. I'll see if he'll give it another go, this Yuletide season.

I spent the first few weeks wondering if I could hide it behind a bamboo screen.

Another year, the husband bought a new telly just in time for Christmas. In fairness, our old TV had had its day and was almost walking to the recycling yard by itself. But our new TV - our current TV - is massive.

Men love it, of course. They wax lyrical about how great the sport looks on a big screen. Women give me knowing looks and shake their heads in sympathy.

I was so astounded at the size of the thing, that I spent the first few weeks wondering if I could hide it behind a tasteful bamboo screen.

But at Christmas time, even I love it. There is nothing like the joy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or The Wizard of Oz, watched on a big screen. 

Bring on the Christmas telly and those warm, fuzzy feelings.

I'm not beyond bribing the family to share it with me.


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