Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hippie Night

Monday evenings are in a way just as sacred as the sabbath to LDS families.  However instead of forgetting all worldly cares, and dedicating ourselves to a day of rest and worship as we do on Sundays, we set all else aside, and focus on our families.  Church buildings are locked and dark, and our temples are closed.  We are discouraged from holding parties, receptions, showers, and other get togethers that would distract from family time, or pull someone away from home.  We're even discouraged from signing up our children with sports teams, music groups, or anything else that would regularly meet on a Monday evening.  Monday nights are for the family, and what could possibly be more important than a consistent, regular family meeting time?

We call these special weekly meetings Family Home Evening, or FHE for short.  I was privileged to grow up in a family that never missed a single FHE.  Occasionally my dad's job would keep him working late or out of town, but my mom then directed our family evenings herself.  We sang songs, read from the scriptures, had gospel lessons, ate treats, and enjoyed being together.  Sometimes we'd go out to the movies as a family, or play flashlight games outside.  Parents, brothers, and sisters became an audience to preform dance routines, a new song learned on a musical instrument, or a poem memorized at school.  We also used that time to discuss important events, and make family decisions.  Some of my most treasured childhood memories are from a common Monday night practice in our home, where during "treat time" at the end of FHE, my Dad read aloud stories or chapters from funny books.  We'd laugh until we were at risk of choking or spitting out chocolate brownie, and were always sad when the story or chapter was over, and we had to get ready for bed.  Even as a moody teenager, I looked forward to Monday nights.  It was an oasis of happiness, strategically placed at the start of a long and difficult week of high school. 

I remember when I was twelve, I had an opportunity to join an elite children's orchestra.  My violin teacher highly recommended the group, and my mother, being a music teacher herself, knew the experience would be a good opportunity for me.  However when we learned the group met on Monday evenings, there was no argument or pause.  I didn't have to fight with my mother, I simply knew, this wasn't something I would participate in.  She really wanted me to be a part of this group, but despite this disappointment, she didn't hesitate for a second, or rationalize that maybe we could switch the nights for family night.  We both knew right away, Monday nights are family nights, and being a great musician comes second to being together as a family. I didn't join the group. 

At the time that experience wasn't significant, because it was consistent with training I'd had all my life.  It didn't stand out as extraordinary to me.  I see now that it was.  I've realized it's my parents unfailing attitude and dedication to our family that has taught me where my priorities should be, and how to run my own family now.  The confidence I have in my family relationships has so much to do with that family night.  Our schedule of activities molded around family night, and not the reverse.  Tuesday through Saturday the world had claim on our time.  Nothing touched Monday nights, because there never was something else more important.   

I do not think there is a better way to demonstrate love to your family.  There are naturally other important things not to be neglected, such as kind words, patience, hard work, a listening ear, providing for essential needs, teaching discipline and moderation, keeping a clean and healthy home, the list goes on.  However I have witnessed the blessings of a regular family time that comes second to nothing else.  I was reminded every single Monday of the first eighteen years of my life that I was loved, and that being together as a family mattered.  Nothing shook our resolve.  Come what may, we'd be together that night.  I was never bitter or unhappy about that.  No one in my family was.  We wanted to be together.  What more could you want from life than to be together with your family? 

After that lengthy and slightly heavy description of a topic of obvious importance to me, you're probably wondering what on earth gave me the inclination to name this entry "hippie night"?  Well I can answer that!!!  My husband and I do hold FHE with our family.  After a perfect legacy and example set by my parents, how can we not?!!!  With Daddy's frequent deployments, its obvious to anyone how important a regular family meeting time would be.  Now, admittedly while Daddy is away and the girls are so little, holding FHE does feel a bit redundant, since we're together all day anyway.  However routine and memories start early, and I don't really have an excuse not to do something special on Mondays with my little sweeties.  Last night the girls and I had a "hippie night" together for our FHE.  Not really, but we did make homemade granola.  Then we formed a drum circle, sang "kum bi ya" . . . just kidding.  I'm much too conservative, and would probably offend most hippies by applying the term to myself.  We did make the granola though, and it was fun!!! 

We'd had a late lunch, and not having a hungry Daddy coming home from work to cook for makes our dinner routine a little more flexible.  Emma, my fabulous friend, who is a great mom, and a former professional chef, recommended this recipe for homemade granola.  As our "optional ingredients" we added dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips, half a cup each, and enjoyed bowls of freshly made granola for supper.  Both my girls, who are picky eaters, especially at supper time, gobbled it right up!!  It's of course tasty with fruit, or on ice cream or yogurt (so I hear anyway) but we ate it by itself like dry cereal.  We had so much fun making it and of course eating it together, I had to share both the experience and recipe.  A healthy, kid-friendly snack, that contains whole grains, fruit, protein, and no preservatives (since we made it at home ourselves!) is a rare find!! 

So- go start up a family night, and make some granola!!!  If you ever need ideas on what to do together, I'm your girl, as I've had a lifetime of experience on the subject.  Don't feel intimidated or tell yourself it's too late, your kids are too old, your lives too busy... because the way to make something like this work, is to set aside all excuses, get started, and don't stop.  You'll never truly have something better to do in place of this time, and you'll never miss what you sacrificed to be together.  Think about what in your heart is most important to you, and you'll know I'm right.  Not that I can take credit.  FHE wasn't my idea after all...


  1. Your tribute to FHE warms your parents' hearts. You're right; there is nothing more important. God bless you for seeing that. Your kids will thank you.

  2. I also LOVE FHE...it's such a Great time in our home. The Spirit is always SO strongly present during this time, we can talk as a family, & best of all...we can have time together as a Family when during the week with Brett having school & working nights...this can be hard sometimes. I really LOVED your post. We Love & Miss You all So Much! The girls look SO cute! They are growing right up!

  3. You are a great mom. And I'm excited to try this recipe for our FHE when my hubby is gone next week! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yay for home evening! best night of the week! That was something I really missed on my mission.....until I started holding them with my investigators. Great way to teach families and bring skeptical siblings/spouses into the gospel

  5. Yes, I bet your mom & dad loved that tribute to all their effort. You all always were a wonderful example to me growing up.

    So we are great at the FHE activity. It made me glow w/ pride when Izzy pronounced "famlee nome eve-neen" for the first time. I even bought an FHE board. However, the only parts that we cover are the fun activity & the treat. But we are not great at the actual lesson or spiritual side of it. Maybe you could email me your lesson from the previous week for spritual ideas?????