The other day I was talking to my eight-year-old twins about growing up without Netflix, Amazon Prime, or even DVD players, or as they like to call it “the days of the dinosaurs.” They listened in amazement when I told them about adjusting rabbit ears on a television set and only being able to watch movies when they were broadcast. My twins, Cupcake and Chunk, sat with their mouths open as I discussed how the family would stop everything the week of Easter to watch the special, limited commercial interruption version of The Sound of Music. If you forgot “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” was on (complete with commercials for those delicious Dolly Madison donuts), you had to wait until next year. As a kid, I loved the anticipation of getting to see Julie Andrews spin around the Alps with her beautiful voice bursting out in song. As an adult, I love having technology at my fingertips. Whenever I feel like watching the fictional version of Maria von Trapp, I can simply pop the DVD into the player or even watch it on my computer screen. As a parent, though, it’s taken some adjustment to get used to this new phenomenon.
On the one hand, I love movies. I love sharing the movies I loved growing up with my kids. Some of them hold up rather well. Others not so much. When I was a kid, I cried for a week straight when I outgrew my Benji sneakers. Then I showed the movie to my oldest daughter and I nearly cried because the movie was nowhere near as good as I remember.
On the other hand, I miss the anticipation of waiting for something special to arrive. My mom would count down the days and that night, we’d pop popcorn, turn the lights down and pretend we were in a movie theater together. Without the wait and the special effort to make the living room more special than normal, something seemed to be missing.
Then I realized. Nothing was missing. Even though there’s no longer the anticipation of waiting for something, there’s something in making family movie night special. Old favorites can join new favorites. As a parent and adult, I can turn the lights down, I can pop popcorn, and I can make the evening special. The movie itself was only part of the experience. The people mattered. So I gathered my kids and we watched Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt’s version of Cheaper by the Dozen. Even Chunk, who insisted he’d get bored and leave ten minutes into the movie, stuck around until the ending credits.
The best part about the present, though? No commercial interruptions.