Life without a Television

Monday, March 7, 2011
I grew up in a household lacking a television, but least you fear my brother and I were raised as some northern hybrid of the "homeschool jungle freak," let me assure you that we did not spend our afternoons studying up for the National Spelling Bee. In the summer months, our maternal grandparents were our next door neighbors and more afternoons than not, we'd head over for our diet pop and a couple hours in front of the tube, watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon (and later on, MTV and VH1), slowly turning our brains into a soft jelly.

During the winter, my grandparents headed south, forcing us two kids to depend on the library for some old fashioned entertainment. In college, I enjoyed the hundreds of complimentary cable channels that came with on-campus living and quickly discovered that people really meant it when they said "there's nothing on." Now that I'm on my own, I once again live in a household without a television and it's hard to miss the blaring, commercial ridden box when there's Netflix.

Through it all, there's always been a time every year when everyone in my family actively seeks out a television.
Yep, Minnesota High School Boys Hockey tournament time! The four-day tournament always takes place in St. Paul over the second weekend of March. It almost always handily coincides with my birthday (including my birth day) and I have gone so far as to have friends tape the championship games on the two occasions when I've been out of the country during the tournament. Needless to say, the tournament offers the best hockey in the world. The color commentary of intrepid tournament announcer Lou Nanne is basically the soundtrack to this annual weekend at my house.

Over the years, we've come up with pretty creative ways to get around the fact that none of us own a television to watch the tournament. One time, my father (who always walks or bikes to work) came home from work with a borrowed t.v. so small, it fit inside his backpack. If I remember correctly, the only thing the teeny t.v. ever displayed was a whole lot of static. Another time, we borrowed a larger television, but the set only got reception in our (unfinished) basement. That year we huddled around the t.v. on the concrete floor between the wood pile and roaring furnace. More often that not, we ended up crashing at the (sometimes unheated) home of some out of town accommodating friend or relative to get our annual fill of hockey.

The ridiculous television adventures seem destined to continue. Just last weekend, I headed over to the neighbors' for some Oscar viewing. We figured we could stream the awards show, but the only thing streaming was a backstage commentary, complete with the thank you cam and press conferences, but no actual shots of the actually ceremony. Figuring out who actually won required careful deductive skills. But that's just life in the woods, alienated from the world of popular culture.   

As for the hockey tournament this year, Mom says she's figured out a way to stream it. We'll just see how that goes, eh?


  1. I can relate. I grew up with a TV, chose not to have one for most of my young adult life and have had one since on and off. The best I can do now is have our one TV tucked away in some other part of the house where I don't have to hear it or see it if I don't want to. I hope streaming works for your hockey games.

  2. I didn't have a tv in high school and, of course, i felt so underpriviledged... Now, as an adult, I go through cycles where I can't stand the thing- or I love it...

  3. Those are some pretty creative tactics to watch tv. There are so many days I wish I didn't have the tv sucking me in to it, I'd be much more productive, I'm just not brave enough to live without it.

  4. I used to be a tv junkie to the point of having two tvs going and two vcrs taping pretty much 24/7.
    I've gone without cable now for 6 years. The only thing I can not do without is wrestling and cooking shows.
    Mom tapes me wrestling 2 times a week and the cooking shows I watch online.

  5. i used to watch a lot of tv (like most people) when i was younger, included putting it on just for background noise. during college i pretty much stopped watching tv & got rid of the one in my bedroom. now i watch it very occasionally. i don't miss it one bit!


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