Surviving nicely with (almost) no TV
Coffee bubbled through the percolator, dancing to the beat of the Maxwell House theme song.
The fact that this archaic TV commercial is among my earliest memories may indicate a safe and uneventful childhood.
Or maybe it points to something bigger.
Many of us grew up mesmerized in front of a black-and-white screen perched upon four wooden legs.
Through some great mystery of science it captured invisible waves and assembled them into moving pictures with sound.
But it also created a cultural connection.
No matter where we lived in the U.S., we looked up to Andy and laughed at poor Barney and learned life lessons along with freckle-faced Opie.
We graduated to poor-quality color on a deserted island, admiring the beauty of Mary Ann or Ginger.
We acquired an appreciation for satire as Hawkeye and his M*A*S*H unit performed it with surgical precision.
TV became important.
Maybe too important, my wife and I agreed this year.
We discovered that our blended household contained almost a dozen televisions.
At least one was always blaring in almost every room in the house.
In our quest for the simple life, we sold about half of them. Then we did the unthinkable. We pulled the plug on the satellite dish.
It was the best thing we've ever done.
Somewhere along the road to "South Park," TV lost its innocence. But our measures were not some crusade against Hollywood.
We just like the newfound peace and quiet. We like to see people in our house reading books and working crossword puzzles. We like to see the children jumping on the trampoline and playing kick the can and fishing in the pond.
We haven't shunned the TV altogether.
My usually mild-mannered wife still watches "True Grit" on DVD and, when riled, is known to quote John Wayne in a line that can't be repeated here.
The whole family has come to appreciate Alabama Public Television, whether it's a documentary on Bob Dylan or a live performance from "South Pacific."
And because the padre of the casa gets only five channels, he doesn't waste much time with the remote.
Like the old Maxwell House commercial, our TV habit is percolating into a memory.