Maybe I was being naive. I thought that when we canceled the cable, our evenings in the living room would transform into a cross between a Norman Rockwell painting and Hagrid’s hut, complete with a cheerful, crackling fire. I envisioned the kids lying on their tummies, playing a board game without argument. I saw my husband reading, the baby cooing, and me knitting in a squashy armchair with Vivaldi warbling on the HiFi.

I didn’t factor in the inevitable use of DVDs.

So we moved the television set and its accompanying DVD player into the master bedroom, thinking that by placing it there, we could more easily control viewing hours and help our living room finally obtain that cozy ambiance only a gas burning, fake log fireplace can offer.

The living room became a ghost town.

Not only did it degenerate into one of those vacuum striped “for guests only” sort of rooms, but our master bedroom became the social hot spot. All of a sudden, crumbs infiltrated our luxurious 400 thread count sheets, random school friends were using the master bath, and every weekend became a slumber party with Mom and Dad. Just like that, our quarters went from boudoir to rec room.

It was time we faced the facts: What makes a room in our house popular is either food (the kitchen) or a television. Preferably both. The television was the new hearth.

Years ago, when I was in high school, my mother broke her leg. She was unable to hobble up the stairs to her own bedroom, so she took up residence in the downstairs guest room to convalesce. My father, being the gallant man he is, went straight out and bought her not flowers, not balloons, not jewelry, but a TV. Top of the line. When he rolled the monstrosity in, he said he got it for her to, “make her popular.” It worked.

Like Glinda the Good Witch, in one fell swoop he had made her and that cold, damp guest room extremely popular. It was where we all gathered to watch Must See TV on Thursday nights. It was where we ate meals. It was the first room I went to after school. It was where I got my first taste for fabulous cooking shows, sidled up there on the bed with my mom, helping with the pillows under her cast. That room became a regular hot bed of activity.

So in an effort to regain the master bedroom territory, my husband and I strategically moved the television back into the living room. Sure enough, the traffic followed. Even when that thing is off, just its mere presence is enough to attract a crowd. Some sort of magnetic pull I guess…

Now all I have to do is seize the moments when the power is off, the remote is lost (he he he…) and flip on a little Vivaldi. Who’s up for Boggle?

As for my mother, her leg healed up fine. And yes, she is still extremely popular. Her kitchen boasts both a TV and a fireplace. 

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, free-lance writer, and the mother of five small children. Read more at  www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com