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TV Snuggle Time

It would be safe to say that I was never deprived of television as a child, or any visual medium for that matter. My parents were firm believers in any medium with an educational or entertainment purpose. In my family, watching television and home videos was not just entertainment, it was a way of spending time together, laughing together, and conversing together. In light of this, I have a deep love for these media because they brought me closer to my family.

I remember the night perfectly. It was freezing outside and my twin sister Kelly and I were sitting backward on the family room couch. We watched intently through the patio door as the snow fell hard in our back yard. In the background however, was the most important part, the television. It was loud, and the evening news update was just about to return from a commercial break. This was not just any update, this was the update that would tell my sister and I whether or not we had to go to school the next day.

It was back, and flashing across the bottom of the screen was the list of school closings. Yes, Lyndhurst School System, no school! Although we were only seven, we somehow knew to be excited at the all important snow day.

Suddenly, my dad came upstairs from the basement with a huge smile on his face because he had just found some old reels of film. He asked my sister and I if we wanted to watch old movies. Of course we did; we had no school the next day! While my mom made hot chocolate, Kelly and I helped my dad set up the old film projector in the dining room. We turned off all of the lights and watched silent home movies of my sister and I growing up. Images of us doing cartwheels in the front yard, arm wrestling with our parents, setting up a lemonade stand in our driveway, and having a water fight in our little Mickey Mouse pool, made us laugh and laugh for at least two hours straight. Watching the reels of film brought our blank dining room wall to life, and as the snow continued to fall, I remember how warm and secure I felt at that moment.

As I got a little older, life became much busier. Piano lessons, gymnastics, Hebrew school, and homework I considered impossible, filled my days. Even with my busy schedule, there was always time for TV, especially "The Cosby Show." Every Thursday night like clockwork, snuggle-time. Our V-shaped beige leather couch looked more like a blanket exhibit than a family room sofa. My dad lay on one side, my mom on the other, and my sister and I lay on the ground in a make-shift bed of blankets and pillows.

There were unwritten laws during snuggle-time that were always obeyed: no phone calls, work, or talk of work, just watching our favorite sit-com while spending time together. It was as simple as that. Although my family ate dinner together almost every night, more conversations took place at snuggle-time than at any other. Looking back I've realized that it wasn't "The Cosby Show" that I loved so much. It was the routine of togetherness that my family had created. Finding time to spend together was not an easy task in our fast-paced lives. I was lucky because no matter what was going on, we had this time to be together.

Of course, snuggle-time didn't last forever. "The Cosby Show" ended. After that it was all over because my dad got a new video recorder. He decided it would be a great idea to make home videos all the time. Early one Thanksgiving morning, my dad woke my sister and I up really early. In fact, it was still dark outside. I remember feeling confused until I heard his voice of enthusiasm. "Come on girls, we have to make our very own Thanksgiving day parade video for your mother," he said. So we went to work.

My little ten-pound dog was transformed into a walking float, and my sister and I posed as every imaginable person involved in a parade. We were the dancers, singers, float leaders, and announcers. As we paraded around our kitchen floor like we were in the streets of New York, I remember my stomach hurt from giggling at our creation of a Thanksgiving day parade.

Later that night came the premiere of the video. We were a hit, and I remember observing each family member's face complete with smiles and laughter as they watched our parade on television. Everyone kept commenting on our willingness to act as my dad's guinea pigs. I didn't mind, in fact I loved it because I was spending time with my dad.

I was always taught that Thanksgiving was a special day to be grateful for all that we had. As I watched my family's happy expressions that Thanksgiving, this definitely became clear to me. I was so grateful for each and everyone of them. I don't know if my dad realized what a success the video would become, but every Thanksgiving since then my family watches that video on television and reminisces about that special day.

On the day after my thirteenth birthday my bat mitzvah took place. In the Jewish religion, a girl is considered a woman after their bat mitzvah. The bat mitzvah service was in front of my family, friends, rabbi, and temple congregation, and would be recorded for yet another home video.

The service was great, and the fact that a video was on me the entire time was the least of my worries. I was relieved that my portion of the service was over and that it was a success. My parents made a speech pronouncing how proud they were of what my sister and I had achieved. We were the first females in our family on either side to have a bat mitzvah, and that made the day a tremendous accomplishment for everyone.

Later that night we celebrated. I was so excited because there was going to be a huge party with all of my family and friends. Who knew that in the time between my service and the party, the beautiful day would turn into one of the worst snow storms Cleveland had seen in two decades? Certainly not my family, or the guests. I remember sitting on my mom's bed, shocked at the two feet of snow that managed to fall in the time between our service and reception. Kelly and I were positive that no one would be able to make it to the party. However, within the first hour people arrived, just a little colder than expected. We were lucky because everyone except for 10 people came to celebrate with my family and I.

Exactly one month after my thirteenth birthday I received the finished edition of my bat mitzvah video. My family ran to the TV to watch how the day had been captured. It was great. The video showed the entire service, snow storm, and party. I am so grateful to have this piece of footage to symbolize what I accomplished. Sitting in the family room and watching that video was a very proud moment in my life. The fact that I was sharing that moment with my family made it even better.

The events in my life that I have described have influenced how I live my life today. I now find myself incorporating television in my learning process. Watching certain programs help to keep me informed about worldly events. I believe that if I was not exposed to television as a child, I might not use the medium this way as an adult.

I love the timelessness of the home videos my family and I made, and how my bat mitzvah video can bring back that special day for myself and my family. When I am home on breaks from school, we still have snuggle-time. Granted, we may be watching a movie and not "The Cosby Show," but we follow the same rules, lay in the same spots, and unwind together after a long day.

Technology, especially television, can definitely bring a family close together. My family chose to use it to create an even stronger bond between us. I do believe that children can watch too much television. However, when taken advantage of correctly, the two media I presented in this paper can become a beneficial part of anyone's life, just as they have given me an appreciation for what I love most, my family.

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