Sheltered Islander: Holiday TV Time with the Fam

Sheltered Islander family TV time
Photo: Yuriy Chaban, 4774344sean/iStock/Thinkstock

So how was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great. Whenever my family gets together in a group, I get enough material for four articles.

This year, we all convened at my brother Brian Boutcher’s house in Sag Harbor. His in-laws, the Pratts, were there. We had all the normal commotion. Mr. Pratt, a gourmet cook, was checking the turkey every 15 minutes with family members cruising through the kitchen asking “Is it done?” Of course, there was a children’s table because we don’t want those animals eating with us! They still think milk shooting out of someone’s nose is funny.

We told old family stories for hours, excessively embellished as the occasion and blood alcohol level demanded. We were all starting to feel very sentimental, missing the family that wasn’t there and appreciating the ones that were. Just as the conversation was deteriorating into a bonding “Waltonsesque” moment, someone saved us all by suggesting we put on March of the Wooden Soldiers, as we have in the past.

So, we turned on the TV and only heard the WLNG broadcast—over the TV channel! We tried going around the channels to look for the movie, but to no avail. The appropriate thing to do would be to say, “Ah, what the heck, just leave it alone, we’ll figure it out later. It’s Thanksgiving, we’re all here, turn off the TV.”

But a malfunctioning TV is a code-red situation in any self-respecting American home. If the plumbing goes, you can go in the yard until the plumber gets there. If the power goes, you can endure it with candles and watching the children play with fire. Inconveniences can be handled, but this was TV.

All the adults not needed in the kitchen assembled in the living room. Failure was not an option. Was it the remote? Does it need batteries? Are all the cables connected and tight? Was the bill paid? Did somebody screw with the menu settings? Has there been any drinking in this room?

Brian got to lay on the floor behind the TV and swear. The couch became Capital Command Central. Karren and Rob took the job of presenting conflicting theories. David spouted off-the-wall ideas from the La-Z-Boy, “Maybe you should turn the set toward Mecca.”

It was my role to reinstate suggestions other people had already made. That’s really the hardest role in a situation like this because you have to make each suggestion sound like it’s a new idea.

My daughter took the role of criticizer. She’s older now, so it was acceptable to enter the adult realm of television crisis intervention. Plus she’s got a real smart mouth. Wonder where she got it from, probably those kids at school. Someone else did a great job of saying “Shut up! We’ve already tried that!” Thank God we had enough people to make a complete television-crisis intervention team.

After about 45 minutes, some people (the quitters) suggested we forget about it. Besides, they said, the turkey was done. They were subdued by a loud chorus of “But we almost have it!” We were at it for at least an hour, checking connections, going through the menus and turning the set to face Mecca. Finally, just before we would’ve been forced to make the decision to hold dinner, Brian did something and it was fixed. He wasn’t sure exactly what he did that fixed it, and that was perfect.

There are some things in life that should maintain a sense of mystery and awe about them. Thanksgiving miracles like spontaneous machine restoration is one of them.

So what did we do next? Well, the turkey dinner—trimmings and all—was set and ready to go, so we turned off the TV and went and had dinner of course!

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