Drive-in Movie Theater: A Welcome Flashback

My first memory of having visited a drive-in movie theater is from 1986.  My parents loaded us all into the family van and made the trek to a local drive-in theater.  The featured films that evening were “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” starring Matthew Broderick.  You know, Sarah Jessica Parker’s husband. 

I fondly remember my dad hanging a receiver over the driver’s door in order for us to hear the audio that accompanied the video.  The sound was a bit staticky and the screen was a little fuzzy, but not so much that those things ruined the experience.  After all, we were enjoying the only technology that existed at the time. 

Another memory that floods back from that night is how incredibly difficult it was for everyone to get a good view of the screen from inside the van.  Portable chairs like the ones that you see at soccer games and outdoor concerts of today hadn’t yet been invented and we didn’t have those bulky lawn chairs that would have allowed us to comfortably enjoy the movies in the great outdoors.

Despite the inability to get a clear view of the entire screen from within the van, I have nothing but amazing memories from that evening with my family doing something that was almost unheard of by the mid-80’s as drive-ins were almost a relic.

Nearly two decades later, having moved to another state, I was surprised to see that one of my favorite past activities was still available for me to begin making memories for my children.  The technology is different, but the experiences are much the same – fantastic!  The audio is now played via an FM station in your vehicle, the movie screen is crisp, and the vehicles that we drive are much more comfy than what my parents had.  Oh, and camp chairs allow moviegoers to comfortably sit outside of their vehicles for unobstructed views of the screen.

The nostalgia of old and comfort of new collided on New Year’s Eve 2011 to create new memories when my 12-year-old daughter and I enjoyed a visit to the local drive-in theater.  We missed the company of my husband and teens who all declined to go along on this memory-making, quadruple feature adventure.  I think their reluctance had something to do with the first two movies to be shown (Happy Feet 2 and The Muppets). 

Although this wasn’t our first visit to this drive-in theater, it was the first mother-daughter trip there.  We had a great time laughing and talking about silly things in a way that you can’t when “the boys” are around.  In wonder, at times mockingly, the youngest (and most adventurous) member of my brood asked questions about and commented on the concession advertisements that played before the first movie.  I’ll admit that watching advertisements with a copyright date of 1959 is nothing like the colorful, musical, and noisy pitches that she’s used to seeing on Nickelodeon, and even though I wasn’t born until over a decade after those commercials were made, I found them quite nostalgic and actually enjoyed them.  I felt entertained.  That experience was the equivalent of enjoying a game on an Atari console having already played one of today’s video game systems. Simply fun and funny!

As we reclined in our comfy seats, snuggled into blankets and pillows that we brought from home, we laughed and giggled our way through three movies of the night’s quadruple feature.  Right after the third movie of the evening, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and featured a cameo by Matthew Broderick, a co-owner of the theater announced that it was finally time for us to make our way into the concession area to get our New Year’s Eve treats: hats, noisemakers, and sparkling or hot cider.  So my daughter and I made our way through the line picking out each of our items (we chose hot cider, since the outside temperature was 41 degrees) and posed for our picture that was being taken by the same co-owner.

What a wonderful evening this had been and it wasn’t over yet!  Once back to our van, we eagerly awaited instructions for how to proceed with the celebration.  At the appointed time, we were directed to watch the screen as it displayed a decades-old animation counting down to the start of the new year.  Alas, shouts of “Happy New Year!” could be heard from every corner of the lot.  Honking horns and fireworks marked the momentous occasion.  And cups were raised in honor of the promise that the new year would bring.

After a few more minutes of celebrating, the final movie of the evening began.  We tried to stay awake long enough to enjoy this experience to the fullest, but it just wasn’t in the stars, so we headed home soon after to join the rest of our family and nestle into our warm beds.

While streaming video, mail-order video rental subscriptions, ubiquitous video rental kiosks, or local video rental stores (which are becoming relics themselves) are more suitable for the busier lifestyles that we lead today, in my book, they could never hold a candle to the experience of sitting in my own vehicle (or outside of it in a camp chair) with my family while enjoying a great set of movies on a big screen under the stars.

The time warp to when life was slower and simpler is the perfect antidote to the toxic schedules that many of us keep.  I welcome the experience of taking a step back into time and look forward to future retreats back into the wonder years.

The $8 cost per person for 2-4 movies paired with the freedom to bring my own food and drinks into the facility is far less expensive than a family outing at any community megaplex.  However, regardless of the cost of admission, the memories that are made from visiting a drive-in theater are priceless.

Search the Drive-in theater database to find the closest auto theater near you.

Happy New Year!

CC

 

Happy New Year!

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118: 24

I pray that 2012 brings about much joy and thankfulness for whatever God brings into your life this year.  If you don’t know Him, or have fallen away from a relationship with Him, my prayer is that He will reveal Himself to you and that you will accept Him as your Lord and Savior and make the choice to follow him for the rest of your life.  May your heart and actions outwardly show your dedication to Him.

If you’re the resolution-making kind, here’s to hoping that you’re able to accomplish everything that you set out to change about your life. 

With God all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26

CC

Resolutions

There are many things that I need in my life, but I don’t need to wait until January 1st to begin executing a plan to become more organized, drink more water, eat more fruit, exercise regularly, focus more on extended family, and read the Bible more.  Likewise, I don’t feel bad about setting goals after January 1st.  I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.

Sure, I’d love to do all of the things that I listed, and more, but I believe that an all-out campaign to conquer them all of them at once is a setup for failure.  So, what do I think is the best way to attain each goal?

  • Make a list and be specific.  Write down my exact goals and provide details regarding   how I plan to accomplish them.  (Ex: Increase daily water intake to 100 ounces by substituting morning coffee and bedtime tea for water and eating 3 servings of fruit each day.)
  • Set reasonable goals.  Trying to be superhuman won’t work and will make me lose interest quickly.  So, in relation to the goal of increasing my water intake, instead of trying reach my goal of consuming 100 ounces water on the first day, I will need to slowly add a few extra ounces here and a piece of fruit there until I reach my goal.
  • Prominently display list.  Seeing my goals in writing will help me to remember what they are when they busyness that I call life gets in the way.  Posting the list in my home office workspace will ensure that I’ll see it at least once per day.
  • Start slow.   Setting out to transform one aspect of my life at a time versus trying to accomplish everything at once will lend itself to success.  For instance, if my first goal is to drink more water, I will wait until that becomes natural (a lifestyle change) before embarking on the next goal.
  • Cut myself some slack.  Everything won’t go as planned, so the keys to continued confidence, and ultimate success, are to recognize that there will be bumps in the road and quickly move past them to get back on track.

No, I don’t need to make resolutions to ring in the new year.  What I desperately need is a plan that outlines the baby steps that I will take over time in order to realize longterm lifestyle changes.  So you won’t find me loading up on bottled water, calling every out-of-town relative, and going for a 5-mile run on January 1st.  You’ll likely find me doing something very similar to what I’m doing now, but with a cup of water beside me.

Happy New Year!

CC

Operation DPR: Out with the Old, In with the New

I don’t know about you, but in our house, the mortgage payments cover every nook and cranny inside the house and the space within our exterior property lines.  Therefore, our philosophy is that we have no rooms that are just for show.  Our house is fully utilized, as it should be. 

Anyplace that’s not actual living space is a potential storage area.  At this very moment, we have at least one major storage area that requires a marathon semi-annual cleaning effort that can last up to two days – with all hands on deck.

Seeing as though Christmas is less than 48 hours away, there’s no time like the present to begin Operation DPR to make room for soon-to-be exchanged gifts.   What is operation DPR?  Operation DPR is the process of sorting the contents of our storage/laundry room/crawl space into piles in order to spruce up our home a bit.  During Operation DPR, items receive one of three labels: Donate, Purge, or Relocate

The donate pile is one of my favorites, because those items find new homes via our donations to Goodwill or some other chartitable organization.  This pile can include anything from children’s clothing, to toys, to furniture.  I love that someone else gets to enjoy things that we can no longer use, but are still in good condition.

The purge pile is self-explanatory; these things are suitable for the trash.  One man’s trash isn’t always someone else’s treasure.  Then again, we’ve watched as passersby have sifted through our trash placed at the curbside on numerous occasions and driven away with a car full of our junk.  Hmm, I guess this is a donate pile of sorts as well if someone gets to it before the waste removal company does.

The relocate pile is for items that need to be buried deeper into the storage area, because while they have no immediate use, the cost of replacing such items, or their perceived future value, dictates that we hold on to them for a little longer.  After all, you can’t predict when you’ll find a reason to repurpose something.  Maybe I just watch too much HGTVOr maybe I don’t watch it enough???  

Once the piles have been processed, our newly-organized space will perhaps inspire me to do laundry regulary.  A girl and her family can dream, right?

To keep from having to go through this process more than twice per year and to help keep our space organized, here are a few simple guidelines that we’ve used.

  • Donate, relocate, and purge at least twice per year. 
  • Garages are for cars.  If we have so much stuff that we need to move our cars out of their houses to make room for an abundance of goods, we’ve accumulated too many things.
  • Install floating shelves or shelving units to keep floors clear – or at least to make them available for large items
  • Invest in a shed (or two as we have) for items that belong outdoors: bikes, lawn equipment, and summer sporting goods.
  • Keep piles at appropriate heights.  Storing too much on the floor makes a room look cluttered.  While stacking things too high makes the room look small and dark; not to mention, it makes reaching items a sometimes dangerous feat.
  • Resist – if you see a “perfect” coffee table, but already have one that perfectly suits your home’s current decor, resist the urge to buy it and there will be no need to store the other one.  I know.  I know.  “But it was so cute and the price was right.”  Remember?  Resist.
  • Use durable, plastic underbed storage boxes for kid toys, such as Legos and dolls and their accessories.
  • Use under-the-stair space for storing items that get used often during their busy season.  (Camping gear for example.)

Despite our philosophy, there’s always room for improvement, so for us, one thing that we can do to make Operation DPR a greater success is to schedule it.  That’s right.  We need to actually put it on the family calendar (we use Cozi), so that everyone will know exactly when Operation DPR will occur and prepare accordingly.  It wouldn’t hurt to post a message on the frequently-visited refrigerator either as the date draws near. :-)

There’s nothing like a good cleaning project to bring new life to your living (and storage) spaces.  Who will join me for Operation DPR?

Share your DPR tips and before and after pictures (if you dare) on our Facebook page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

CC

P.S. – The picture above is not of my laundry room, but it inspires me.

Will Handmade Christmas Gifts Make A Comeback?

Decades ago, Christmastime was simple.  Gifts were handmade, families gatherings were much-anticipated, credit cards weren’t a billing option, and Black Friday hadn’t even been conceived.

Fast-forward to today.  In an environment in which the national unemployment rate hovers at 9% (much higher for certain segments of the population), poverty rates are at the highest level since 1993, household debt approaches a staggering $12 trillion (although it did decline slightly), and foreclosure rates of which we’re all vividly aware, I wouldn’t have imagined shoppers spending billions of dollars in discretionary shopping in the past few days.

So exactly how much was spent?  Black Friday 2011 sales hit a record $11.4 billion, a 39% increase over last year.  Add to that the $1.25 billion spent on Cyber Monday (another record-breaker), it’s almost inconceivable that unemployment rates could be so high.

In my mind, I imagined that there would be no time like the present (no pun intended) for a cultural return to homemade gifts for the holiday season.  (Disclaimer: I am a Christian and celebrate Christ’s birth, but do recognize that others celebrate holidays for which they shop during this time of year.  I am in no way referring to this time of year as “the holidays” for purposes of being politically correct.)  However, sales figures prove that my mental picture is wrong. 

Humor me.  What would Christmas look like if we turned a cultural corner and went back to the simple days of gift-giving and celebrating? 

  • Batches of baked goods would be exchanged
  • Families would gather to dine and sing carols
  • Scarves and mittens would be knitted with care
  • Stress level would decline
  • Toys would be built by the hands of loved ones

But who am I kidding?  Based on recent consumer spending, despite household debt figures, I don’t think we’ll make a return to simpler Christmas celebrations of old.  I’m not even convinced that consumer spending could go any lower without the proverbial bottom falling out of this already-dismal economy. 

Let’s face it.  Deal-seekers who camp out in front of electronic stores days before Black Friday, clickers who load and submit shopping carts on Cyber Monday, and a culture in which we want it all and we want it now, are both curses and blessings.  They are curses because they lead to rising household debt, but they are blessings in that without them, the unemployment rates would be much higher.

So, no, I don’t think handmade gifts will make a comeback anytime soon.  I still plan to bake a few batches of goodies though. 😉

Merry Christmas!

CC

 

Stress-free Thanksgiving Vacation and Dinner…Almost

My first attempt at going solo cooking a Thanksgiving feast was nothing less than a total disaster in every sense of the word.  Who knew that frozen turkeys required days to thaw?  Who knew that there was a bag of innards that needed to be removed before cooking?  Who knew that my parents didn’t wake up to begin cooking a lavish feast soon after midnight just because it seemed like a fun thing to do?

Well, apparently, the whole world knew except me.  Draw your own conclusions as to how my first Thanksgiving attempt really went down; it’s too nightmarish for me to recount.

Fast forward almost 15 years to Thanksgiving 2010.  Two words: Boston Market.  Yes, they have become my festive meal savior.  The new tradition in my household is to log onto BM’s site, order a holiday meal complete with two pies, and choose a pick-up date and time.  That’s exactly what I’ve done each Thanksgiving and Christmas since last year.  So this year, pairing a vacation with the promise of having a stress-free, Thanksgiving feast seemed like the right thing to do.   Those plans hit a snag and were in serious jeopardy just days before the big road trip.

You see, for the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving, I’d been terribly sick and was praying for a sign as to whether we should cancel our vacation plans, or stay at home while I nursed myself back to good health.  The answer to that prayer?  I awakened on Wednesday morning feeling much better than I had in a week.

I spent the morning taking care of a few chores, we left home just 10 minutes past our self-imposed deadline, and after running a few essential errands (including a stop at Boston Market), finally hit the road a mere 1.5 hours behind schedule.  Success!  This was going to be a wonderful Thanksgiving vacation.

Although the drive out of town was harrowing at times, we arrived at our destination unscathed, but you wouldn’t have known it if you’d seen the horror on my face as we drove up to the hotel.  How could it be?  I’d booked rooms at a townhouse-style hotel without knowing it!  What’s the big deal?  Well, the two rooms were in different buildings…a no-no as we were traveling with four children.  Not to mention, breakfast was in a separate building and the only pool on location was an outdoor pool – a no-go in 50-60-degree weather.

Sigh!  So I walked inside, inquired about a penthouse suite, learned that they were all booked, and ultimately handed over my form of payment – for two rooms – in separate buildings.  Not one to be defeated, I headed out to the van to call the hotel company’s reservations center and found an alternative hotel that suited our needs.  Just as I was giving the agent a credit card number, the call was disconnected.

Had I misinterpreted “the sign” about whether or not we should stay home?  If so, how many more roadblocks would be in our way over the next few days?

Still not discouraged, I called the reservations center again, gave the agent very specific information about where we wanted to stay and skipped ahead to the good part where I heard the magic words, “Your reservation number is…” Yes!  “Kids, buckle your seat belts!  We have a new destination!”  :-)

There we were, back on the road again, but this time, we needed only cover about 15 miles to reach our destination.  As we sighted the new hotel, the word “Hallelujah” came to mind.

As we checked in, we found that although the new hotel had interior room entrances (not separate townhouse-style buildings), no adjoining rooms were to be had.  Not a big deal, because the desk clerk said she’d give us rooms next to each other.  Well, it turned out that the rooms weren’t next to each other as the room numbers would imply, they were across the hall and diagonal.  Good enough!

After settling into our rooms, we headed out to pick up a few last-minute items from the grocery store and set out to find dinner as well.  Panera was nearby according to our navigation system, so we headed over for dinner!  The parking was metered, but payment wasn’t required this time of night.  Another good sign.

My husband and I strolled hand-in-hand down the walkway toward a much-anticipated bowl of broccoli and cheese soup.  It sure seemed dark inside, but Panera does tend to have tinted windows.  We tugged at the door handles, but the doors were locked.  Now what?  It was getting late on Thanksgiving Eve and our dining options were dwindling by the minute.

Back to the car we went – no merry stroll this time.  After using the GPS to search for other restaurants, we managed to find food.  Finally, went back to the hotel to eat, my husband and kids swam, and I enjoyed the hot tub.  A great night was had by all!  Things were going our way.

As I looked through our “fully-stocked” hotel room kitchen, I realized that there wasn’t a pot big enough for something that I needed to make the next day.  So we spent a portion of Thanksgiving morning hunting for a large pot in which to boil the pasta that was needed for the homemade mac & cheese.  Sorry, but the mac & cheese and cornbread stuffing are dishes that I don’t think Boston Market does well.  After just two stores, we found a suitable pot.

Let’s get this minimal cooking underway!  Gosh!  What was that horrid smell?  The pasta!  No!  The pot was cheap, therefore, the pasta burned after just a few minutes – and it was still undercooked.  After that part of this slowly-unfolding disaster was taken care of, I had to deal with the fact that neither or our rooms had ovens.

The hotel company decided that the extended-stay rooms no longer needed ovens, so all of the newly-built and newly-renovated locations that had granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and flat-screen televisions have…no…ovens.

What happened to “all the comforts of home?”  Utensils…check!  Full-sized refrigerator and freezer…check!  Cloth dinner napkins…check!  Dishes…check!  Dishwasher…check!  Mixing bowls, pitchers, pots and pans…check, check, check!

Oven…Houston, we have a problem.  My home, as do most others, surely has an oven!  But no ovens were located in our “fully-stocked” hotel room kitchens.  Luckily, the front desk clerk offered to let us use the ovens in the main kitchen that the hotel’s chef uses.

Final crisis averted.

We enjoyed our almost-stress-free feast and relaxed before heading back to the pool and hot tub.

Our Black Friday plans didn’t involve going to stores that would be the scenes of pushing and shoving, so we slept in late (7 AM), enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and headed out at 9:30 AM to pick up a new blazer for my husband and camera lens for me.  We conquered Black Friday sales in under an hour and ended up having the rest of the day to do whatever our hearts desired.

Speaking of which, we haven’t decided what to do for the rest of the day.  The kids are enjoying a low-tech game of Monopoly, my husband has awakened from a nap, and I’m bidding farewell for now to you.

I hope that a Happy Thanksgiving was had by all!

Feeling truly blessed,

CC

Blue and White Christmas Theme

Last spring, I painted my family room.  I had grown bored with the six-year-old wall color and the general look of the room, so out went the colors of my favorite football team, and in with something refreshing and “breezy”.  The formerly burgundy room was transformed into a beachy oasis in which the tan flooring represented sand, the white bookcases and trim are the clouds, and the light blue walls are my cool, relaxing sky.

Here’s a glimpse…

As I finished the first roll of the paintbrush, a thought came to mind: I would no longer be able to use the Christmas decorations that I’ve collected over the years.  The traditional red, gold, and green simply won’t fit in with the room’s new color scheme.

With that realization, I knew I’d have to hit the stores soon in search of new Christmas decorations that would complement, not distract from, the family room’s new theme. 

As if sent from above, I saw and advertisement for a “make and take” Christmas ornament session at the local craft store.  So, I hopped into my van with my youngest daughter in tow, so that we could get an idea of this year’s decorative trends and she could learn about the importance of being able to make something with her own hands.  Get them started young if you can.  Crafting can be therapeutic.

My reward/craft for obediently trekking to the store in search of cool Christmas decorations on a hot, summer’s day?  A beautiful clear ornament that was ultimately covered inside with light blue glitter and a pretty silver ribbon on the outside.  I love it!  My daughter chose white glitter for the interior of her ornament and it is equally beautiful.

 

Now, fully thinking about the work that I had ahead of me, I earnestly began my hunt for more decorations.  Due to that dogged determination (I love to decorate!), I soon found a supply of ribbons that was literally being stocked into bins as I perused the DIY aisle.  It didn’t take long for me to make a few selections for my new color scheme.  I am now the proud owner of 5 rolls of silver and white festive ribbon.  Note to self:  Need to brush up on ribbon-making skills for maximum decorative impact.

Fast forward to tonight.  This evening’s shopping trip turned up a set of snowflake ornaments that make an excellent addition to my small, but growing, collection of decorations for this year.

So, here’s everything together.  Obviously, I have my work cut out for me, but I love a challenge!

For the robust decorative look that I prefer, I’ll need to make many more trips to see what great finds are out there just waiting for me to spruce up my newly decorated room for the upcoming holiday season.  I’m also looking forward to making a few ornaments.

One more thing: no Christmas decor would be complete without matching wrapping paper.  You wouldn’t want to sabotage months of searching by using paper that doesn’t enhance the look, would you?

Happy decorating!

Share your pictures of your Christmas decorations here.

CC

First Crock Pot Meal Success!

The fourth time was a charm!  After three failed attempts, my Crock Pot has finally produced something edible.  The difference?  I tossed the recipes and did what felt right – the method that I use when cooking on the stovetop or in the oven.

My first successful slow cooker meal was very simple.  A large bag of frozen meatballs, a large can of Swedish meatball gravy, a dash of white pepper, and a heaping scoop of confidence! 

The smell of slow-cooking ingredients filled the house for hours and I couldn’t wait to debut my newest dish.  The idea to serve it over a bed of egg noodles (cooked on the stove) was a hit! 

One of the benefits of having a slow cooker is that I’m able to cook larger quantities in one pot, which is ideal not only for cleaning purposes, but for producing leftovers.  Of course, leftovers mean less time getting dinner ready to put on the table.  We were able to enjoy yesterday’s dinner again tonight and since dinner was already done, I had a bit of free time to make my first batch of can-less biscuits.  Another bonus!

The recipes haven’t been tossed forever.  In fact, I plan to give my potato soup recipe another try tomorrow (armed with modifications) and on Sunday, I want to try a recipe for slow cooker sweet potato casserole.

For now, I am basking in the success of finally doing what countless other home-based chefs do – use a slow cooker.

What was your first slow cooker success, or disaster?

CC

Family Christmas Gifts

The cold blast that parts of the country are experiencing and the advancing months on the calendar have me thinking about the upcoming Christmas season.  Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.  Obviously, the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, is the true reason for the season, and I feel beyond blessed that He was sent here to save us.  The gift of Jesus is immeasurable.  Along those lines, but obviously not of the same magnitude, the joy of showering my children with gifts is immeasurable to me.

While the joy that gifting my children brings is immeasurable, the amount of money that my husband and I spend to make their dreams of dolls, video games, other assorted electronics come true is very measurable.  In fact, the amount that we spend is set in stone.  Each child gets the same budgeted amount and must live within their means.  What a novel idea! 

In a household where everyone has what they need and most of what they want, I wonder how necessary it is to continue filling our empty spaces with material things just because there’s a budget for it.  My intent is not to be a scrooge, but to turn our focus from solely tangible items to memory-making gifts with some, or all, of our gift money.  Perhaps we can begin a new family tradition that would demonstrate an immeasurable love for one another and for others.

A few ideas that I’ve thought of so far are:

  • Adopting a family and sharing our blessings with them
  • Taking a family vacation for the holidays – the gift of time
  • Purchasing season tickets for amusement parks or sporting events
  • Buying several $5 or $10 gift cards and distributing them randomly to strangers based on the Spirit’s guidance

As I sit here typing this blog, a commercial for spending Christmas in Branson, Missouri is playing on the television.  Is that a sign?  LOL!

Our household is a democracy of sorts (parents can veto just about anything though), so any ideas must be presented at a family meeting where a vote would ultimately be held.  It’s a bit late to hold that process for this year as each kid has already mentally spent their gift budgets, so any decisions would not take effect until Christmas 2012.

Have you adopted a family gift tradition in your home?  If so, what is (or has been) on the gift list?  Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

CC

Let’s Eat!

 

Guys, come eat!”  Those are the words that my family eagerly awaits to hear each evening at dinnertime.  The patter of nearly a dozen feet can be heard on every floor of the house as everyone makes their way to get cleaned up for our last meal of the day.

One of my teens is usually in, or near, the house with two friends.  Routinely, I invite them to stay for dinner.  Inevitably, both teen boys decline.  I began to wonder if my cooking abilities could have been the reason for the repeated rejection.  So, to my surprise, when I offered to have them join us for take-out, the invitation was once again declined.

How could this be?!  Teen boys…love…food! 

Question: What could be the reason teen boys would turn down an offer to eat – even if they’d already had dinner at home? 

Answer: Family habits.

Let me explain.  I later learned that neither boy’s family enjoys mealtime together.  Everyone eats at different times and not always at a table.  One friend admitted to my son that he eats dinner in front of the television every night – alone.  Why?  The table in their dining room has a glass top and has been deemed too fragile for use.  It’s just there to fill space and no one can use it.

That story made me sad.  I can’t imagine not regularly having dinner with my family.  Sure, we have nights when one or two of us are absent from the dinner table due to a class or some kind of practice, but we still dine together nearly every evening. 

I love hearing about what’s on everyone’s mind.  I love seeing their faces.  I love the silliness that’s expressed in every prank, comment, or joke.  I love taking turns praying over our meals.  Simply put, I love the time that we spend together. 

In a household with one tween and three teens, we are well aware that our days together as a nuclear family are numbered.  Soon, our oldest will be leaving for college.  Two years later, two more will also leave for higher education.  And two years after that, we will become empty-nesters.

Time is not on our side, so for us, dinnertime is a sacred gathering where stories are shared, questions about life are asked and answered, manners are taught, jokes are played, and silly faces are made.  Families bond are tightened and memories are made at the dinner table.

Dinnertime togetherness is one of the most blessed gifts we can give to our children.  I pray that the values we’re passing along to them will be passed down by them to our grandchildren and that the tradition of family togetherness doesn’t become lost in conflicting schedules or the simple awkwardness of needing to be alone.

What’s dinnertime like in your house?  Is the dinner table a place for laughter and sharing?  Do conflicting work or activity schedules keep everyone from dining together?  Does a museum-like status of your furniture trump use of your family’s dining area?  

Share with us!

CC