Surviving Without TV Or Microwave

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - December 05, 2007
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Here is how spoiled we are. The dishwasher broke. Disaster! Wash our dishes by hand? Eecchh.

Then the microwave went kaput. It started blinking crazy gibberish and then - fzzst. Gone. “Oh no!” we cried. How will we defrost/reheat/boil water? Can we get through Thanksgiving without a dishwasher and a microwave?

Then the cable box went black. Oh, man. Perfect. Without DVR we’ll miss our favorite shows! Or we’ll be forced to watch in real time, sitting through all the commercials instead of zipping through them, eating stone-cold food on paper plates. Ghastly, ghastly thought.

But here’s the thing. Have you ever tried to get a repairman to come to your home during Thanksgiving week? No can do. It seems everybody’s stuff breaks down during the holidays, and they’re all in line ahead of you.

Well, I’m happy to report that we survived just fine, thank you. We’re all here in one piece and still healthy despite having to rough it for a whole week and three days (but who’s counting?).

So the fact that it all happened in the same time period got me thinking. We are soft. We may be smart - hey, I play Internet Scrabble! But we are ignorant when it comes to the workings of the machines that are increasingly defining our modern lives. We turn into whiners whenever one of our electronic devices goes out of whack. That’s because no matter how smart we are, we are idiots when it comes to this computer-chipped, digital, blankety-blank technology. And when three go out at once - well, we’re helpless as babes.

When did I become such a sissy? I can remember a time when I actually heated stuff up on the stove. (Stove is what we called it in the dark ages. Nowadays it’s a cooktop.) Before the microwave, popcorn took many minutes and a bit of muscle to pop, but we had fun shaking that pan. And we actually had to plan our meals ahead, take the chicken out of the freezer way in advance so we could cook it at the right time. How retro is that?

My sisters and I took turns cleaning up after meals and that meant many hours, or so it seemed, scraping, scrubbing, rinsing and drying mountains of dirty dishes. I resorted to bribery, but my sisters quickly wised up. They could smell my desperation and soon I was shelling out $5 bills like candy - until I went broke.

The point is we were used to working around the house. We not only washed dishes, we did the laundry and hung it up to dry on the clotheslines outside.

We swept, we mopped, we vacuumed. At the end of the day our reward was a chance to relax, sit around in front of the TV and watch a couple of shows. We watched together. As a family. We even liked the commercials.

Luckily my son sort of knew how to do dishes already - Grandma taught him. She makes all the grandkids wash their own dishes when they’re visiting. Thanks, Mom.

I now realize I have been remiss in my duties as a mother. My son has his chores, but he’ll be doing more. He won’t like it, but it’s for his own good. He’ll thank me some day (I think).

By the end of the week (and three days!) we had settled into a routine. I planned our meals a little more carefully; cooked using as few pots and pans as possible. We boiled our water and reheated leftovers on the stove. And after dinner we all cleaned up the mess.

We watched less TV. It was no big deal, really.

Now, if my computer had gone out at the same time -that would have been a real disaster.

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