Thursday, September 17, 2009


Ever since Anne Bradshaw's book Famous Family Nights came out, I've been thinking about family home evenings and I've come to the conclusion that holding family home evenings is a lot like daily scripture reading. Most of us start out really well and think we've got the ideal system down, then life gets in the way, and we have to go to Plan B.
For a while I read scriptures every night, then I began falling asleep as soon as I opened them. I'd unconsciously trained myself to consider them part of my go-to-sleep routine. There was a time when I took my scriptures with me for long soaks in the jetted tub, but when life gets hectic which is most of the time, I stick to showers. Slow dial up computers were a great solution for many years; I kept my scriptures beside my computer and read while my computer loaded. But now I have fast DSL and it doesn't leave time for finishing even a verse. On to the next brilliant plan for consistent scripture study!
When our children were small---toddlers to elementary school age---family home evenings weren't that hard. I always planned a nice dinner of the children's favorites, set the table with nice dishes, and ate by candlelight. This was followed by a song, an opening prayer, a short lesson, and a game. I usually concocted a special dessert to top off the evening like Baked Alaska, chocolate coconut crepes, or a trip to a nearby ice cream parlor. As the children got a little older many of our family nights became outings to the circus, an ice show, or the library. Then the children became teenagers---two worked Monday evenings, sometimes I worked Monday evenings. We moved family night to Sunday afternoon. College, a mission, job demands, even church callings, all kept us shuffling days and times. Eventually Family Home Evenings became more like a monthly event than a weekly one and now included grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I found other families struggled as we did as their children grew older to hold regular family nights. One family I know watches Monday Night Football together and they call that family night. I know another family that has followed the music, prayer, lesson, game, dessert format consistently through the years and still follows it as a senior couple. Another family performs a service project for someone else every Saturday and considers that their family home evening.
As I read through Famous Family Nights which is a compilation of short essays by more than a hundred LDs authors, artists, and musicians on the subject of family nights, I found that most of the contributors have put sincere effort into holding family nights, but like my own family have adapted the format and the time to accommodate their individual family needs through the years. Some of the essays are funny, some are touching, and some share some great ideas for things families can do together to build family unity, share testimonies, and have fun together. The important thing, like with daily scripture study, is to keep trying, keep adapting, and somehow find time. Just as a testimony and love of the scriptures is essential to our spiritual well-being, spending time together as families, growing together in love and companionship, is necessary to building strong families.


Cheri J. Crane said...

I agree, Jennie---I think most families struggle to maintain a regular FHE format. The effort is definitely worth it. And the desserts you served your children through the years sound wonderful.

Gale Sears said...

Yep. We had great FHE's when the kids were small. We struggled when they got older, but I think just trying showed our commitment to the family.
I'm on my way to pick up Anne's book.