A long time ago, the first cave people sat around the fire after dinner and grunted at one another, and drew pictures on the walls with the ashes from the fire. Thus was born “Home Entertainment”. Stories told and retold in the oral tradition were eventually written down, and books were added to the mix. Granted, along the way, people got up and demonstrated the stories by repeating the actions, creating Theater, but that quickly moved out of the home and into the public arena. However, the idea of theater at home was so appealing, that once Radios were introduced, the Radio Drama became a mainstay of Home Entertainment. Television added pictures to the sounds, and improvements in sound technology brought us to the Home Theater System of today. Technophiles are not happy with just a run-of-the-mill Home Theater Surround Sound System. They also need game consoles (yes, consoles, plural, because one is just never enough). Which leads me to my living room.
Christmas is over, and, for the first time in a long time, we did not have a mega-media Christmas. Past Christmases have included the Playstation 2 (granted, that was a while ago), the DVD player, the XBox 360, the Wii, the Blu-Ray player, and the second XBox 360. This past December we added the 3D Blu-Ray player and the active shutter glasses, although since we got that mid-December, my husband is not counting this as Christmas gifts. (He did use the money that was allocated for my Christmas presents to buy said player & glasses, so maybe they really belong to me . . . ) Add to the above-listed assortment the Media Center PC my husband built about a year ago, and we have so much entertainment coming out of our ears that we have no idea what to do with it all or what to watch next. Do we play XBox? Watch shows on the DVR? Play 3D movies? Stream Netflix on any of the many compatible devices? Pick up the toys and go bowling in the living room? Or train our tigers? Or maybe we should just snuggle up on the couch with the PC and our favorite vampires and theoretical physicists. . . .
I decided this year that I was going to go “old school”. I bought books. Not Nooks or Kindles or iPads, Books. The kind with pages made of paper that you have to manually turn. Those things that give that distinct old-world smell to used bookshops tucked away in England. Books. Ironically, a lot of this seems related to my new “job” as a volunteer at our local library. I started a few months ago and realized how much I missed reading. There is a lot to be said for being able to curl up in a comfy chair with a book and have the author weave a story with vivid descriptions of people and places and have your mind construct those for your based solely on the words in front of you. Anyway, I had made a killing late in the fall when our local Borders closed, and I had tucked away much of that stash to be given as gifts later. Then I took advantage of the bonus offers emailed to me by Barnes & Noble and the free shipping they offered all season long for B & N members. The end result is a dearth of shelf space in our living room, where once again books are competing with discs.
I think this is a good problem to have. So much of our society (and especially the younger generations) have grown so accustomed to the instant gratification that technology provides, that many people have forgotten the joy that reading can bring. Yes, it takes much longer for the story to play out in a book than it does on the movie screen (and who would sit through 30 minutes of watching Lisbeth doing research for her job?), but delayed gratification has a lot of merit. It teaches us that things don’t always come fast or easy or cheap. Sometimes, just sometimes, the greater joy can be found in those things that take effort and cost and sacrifice. We have so much more appreciation for something we have worked for than for those things that are just handed to us or that we only have to push a button to get . . .
I hope all of you find some delayed gratification this year!