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When I was a child, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my family was tradition. We would wake up bright and early, drag ourselves into the family room, rub our tired little eyes and gather around the television. Mom would offer coffee and hot cocoa, depending on your age. We’d snuggle together, ready to critique the bands and cheer for our favorite floats. To us, the T-Day Parade was the official kick off of the holiday season. It was tradition and it was spectacular.
Each year, I try desperately to establish this ritual with my own children. I snuggle under the covers and beg them to watch the 3 hour extravaganza. This year was no exception. The parade boasted a ton of stars, from Yo Gabba Gabba, to Kermit the Frog, to that chick from Disney’s Sonny With a Chance. The parade featured a 78 foot Spider-Man balloon plus a 16,000 cubic foot Sponge Bob.
You’d think this would be a red-letter day for my children. But nooo, the parade was too long and too slow for their immediate gratification seeking minds. They didn’t have the attention span to sit through the bands, Broadway numbers, or pre-teen performances. The floats were met with a, “Yeah, that’s cool, now what?” response. Then it dawned on me.
My children have Technology Induced Attention Deficit Disorder, or TIADD. They’re used to shows and games that move fast. They don’t like pauses or lulls and are bored after a second of downtime. They’re spoiled by lightning-quick video games, Tivo and computers that answer to their every whim at breakneck speed. They don’t even have to wait for their favorite song to come on the radio; they just download it to their iPods and listen whenever the mood strikes. Who needs encyclopedias, or even libraries for that matter, when there’s Ask and ChaCha just a click away?
Come to think of it, maybe the producers should have anticipated this kind of reaction from young viewers and stuffed their 3 hour parade like a Thanksgiving turkey. That’s right; stuff all the action into 22 minutes, the length of a Sponge Bob episode. Let the Broadway shows perform on the floats, while allowing the balloons to fly directly overhead. Let the stars do the commentary, and end with Santa singing a Miley Cyrus song. Now, that’s a recipe for a Thanksgiving tradition.