Christmastime Commercialism and Holiday Connectedness.

Christmastime Commercialism and Holiday Connectedness.

After a long break with three separate marathon gatherings of fabulous family, holiday traveling and welcoming guests here, we’re hobbling toward the [welcome] regimen of school and structured work.  So what did we learn during this precious season? That we are a family of connectedness. For better or worse, Mac or PC, screens are a reality of us.

Everyone has a laptop (half are hand-me-downs) and everyone has an iPhone. (Though Jack is still dismayed that he can’t use his hand-me-down iPhone3 to call …. anyone.).  I face the truth: we’re a commercial and connected family. With two marketer and tech-smart parents, our kids have grown up with an extra dose of media savvy as part of their DNA. As we watched the NBA marathon on Christmas Day, we had as much enthusiasm for re-playing great commercials as hail-mary ally-oops.  They’ve grown up going to commercial production shoots and surrounded by storyboards and whiteboard mind mapping. We are also movie-watchers, always critiquing and often competing to be the first to spot filming or editing flubs as we pass the popcorn. So they’re all either hopelessly brainwashed or they’re super-wise media consumers. Even their Bibles are apps.

But I admit to being a bit of a screen-nag this season. Maybe it was because we were all home, and traveling in the ridiculously large Excursion for extended periods.  Precious time with precious people, home for a short time, I yearned to talk and share our hearts and minds through our lips … without screens between us. I’m constantly counting the cost. Weighing the balance. Rationalizing the usage. Don’t they need more time like Linus & Charlie Brown leaning on the neighborhood wall? 

I was raised by a beautiful cultured Englishwoman who prioritized Tea Time with neighbors and preached the Turn It Off sermon daily.  And that was when we only had four television channels.  Our news media today seems to have as much warning about managing screen-time as they are feeding the content of those screens with drivel.  I lament.

“Be Where Your Butt Is.”
“You’re With People Now.”

Then again, today we followed an online recipe (from a laptop) on the island in the kitchen, and later threw up a new WordPress website about Niece Kailey’a artful commitment to carrying on the family’s Swedish Pancake tradition.

And of course this: “But Mom we’re all playing a game together on our own iPhones.”

It was true.  Five of them sat on the big comfy couch all staring at their iPhones, trash talking as they leaped over the other’s avatar, dropping cartoon obstacles racing to some glorious finish. Steve and I listen, understanding only the bigger picture.

Jack: “I jumped!”

Erik: “Jack, don’t tell me or I’ll just jump over it”

Kailey: “I’m right behind you so just watch it”

Riley: “UH He’s right behind ME”

Riley again: “Oh, son of a nutcracker”

Jack: “Erik, you’re not gonna pass me”

Silence, then Jack shouts, “I WIN!”

Erik: “Is my hover board sick?”

Kailey: “Ya”

Riley: “No, actually Jack you’re in last place.”

Erik: “You’re so far behind you think you’re ahead!”


It’s true that hours can pass and no one has picked up a book or played a note. So we must reach into the abyss and pluck out the innocent and rattle their brains free of digital control. After all, the world presented through megapixels can be as limited and conforming as it can be expanding.  It all depends how it’s leveraged, right? I continue my pursuit of mind-expansion, true connection, and motherly protection from channel mania. The little ones who are in more youthful development in these last five years of explosive digital lifestyle need to be lovingly escorted back to the music staff, and giant indoor forts made of cardboard boxes and pillows.

Then we’ll probably film the whole thing, put together a video and share the production pictures on our family’s private Instagram club and YouTube channel.





  1. Chrissy
    Jan 3, 2013

    I can’t wait to read your book! Oh my goodness. I do love you. You draw amazing pictures with your words. I feel like I just spent the last week with your family, and my heart feels warm and fuzzy. 🙂

    • Suzy
      Jan 3, 2013

      you’re missed my dear sister. Come soon!

  2. Beeka
    Jan 3, 2013

    Just think, a couple (or 3) generations back the same thing was said about radio. Loved your take on it and thanks for sharing. Love ya——–(you do such a great job)

  3. Ray Sammons
    Jan 3, 2013

    “Be where your butt is”, what great advice. It’s hard to remember that each of us has our own culture which we hold in our hands – being together without being together.

    Maybe a lesson from Dodge, “Check your phones at the door.” or “turn off the phones while we eat”, or some set of standards to which most agree.

    I find that I too must come back from the digital demand – just to get some things done around the house.

    Thanks for the post and the insights – books, piano, people, are all needed even in the digital age – or so it seems to me.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *