When I was growing up my family ordered pizza almost every Friday night. Then, we would watch The Dukes of Hazzard from 8 to 9. At 9, the boys headed off to bed or at least to another room. Mom and I would pop popcorn, curl up on the couch and settle in for our weekly marathon of Dallas followed by Falcon Crest. While we didn't order pizza, Saturday looked eerily the same. On Saturday, our marathon consisted of Hee Haw, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Those times are such happy and powerful memories for me. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. My family created their own tradition.
Now, I have kids of my own. I want my kids to look back on their childhood with the same kind of nostalgia and joy that I do. So, we have started a tradition of our own. Fridays are for family and Fridays are for fun. There are no dinner guests (except on rare occasion), Brian and I put away our work and our phones and we focus completely on our family. Sometimes we order pizza and sometimes I cook. What we eat isn't as important as making sure the night is set aside to enjoy being with one another.
Instead of eating at the dinner table, we pull out the TV trays and have dinner in the living room. Sometimes we watch a movie or TV and sometimes we play games or build a fort. There are those special times when the evening is filled with nothing but conversation and laughter with our children. As the older two grow, the conversation becomes more frequent and more fun (and a little scary at times too!). By the end of the night, we are all curled up together watching something we all love.
Just like with my family, there is nothing inherently "special" about this night. We aren't spoiling our kids with things or taking them somewhere that requires us to spend money. Don't get me wrong, those are fun to do - SOMETIMES. But, what our kids need from us is simply us. They need to be with us. A day at the park, a walk on the beach or even sitting on blanket in the backyard together on a warm day. Our presence, our togetherness is what is important.
My family looked very similar growing up. We were a tight family. Mention family to me and my brain defaults to an image of Mom and Dad on the couch and three dark-headed girls sprawled on the floor in front of the TV. We often made a stop at Blockbuster (retro alert!) and would often watch two movies in a row before falling asleep on that old soft multi-colored quilt. I'm so thankful for the example of family I was given.
In my family today Josh and I refer to these times as "life-giving". After all, if we're doing our job right through the week, we have given and given and given of our "life"-- our time, many times our emotions, our soul, sharing the extremes of ups and downs in the lives of those in our church family. We have to re-deposit sometime. And, not only that but we have to show our children how to do that too. Friday nights often feel like a breath of fresh air (after all, in a pastor's home Saturday usually involves getting ready for Sunday, and early bedtime). My kids are still little so I know I haven't seen anything yet but their little schedules are so tight through the week with homework, dinner and early bedtime that by the time precious Friday arrives, for that one evening, the time is ours and no one else's. Right now, at their ages, this usually looks like all five of us piling up in our big bed or the boys stretching out in the living room floor, us on the couch, to watch a movie. We're working our way through a list of Disney films now as we prepare for vacation in May. These times are precious to me and each time this moment arrives I feel my lungs and heart fill with life and joy and I know we can conquer another week together.
So what are your family fun traditions? We'd love to hear about them! And, if you don't have this "life-giving" time planned yet, maybe you'll join us in a commitment to set this time aside, whatever day it is, and just be together as a family. Not into movies? Looking for something else to do? There's an app for that! It's called Mom Maps. Mom Maps helps you find places near you that are kid friendly. I know you'll be re-energized as a family and plus, you'll be building priceless memories that will stay with you and your kids forever!
Kelly and Hope