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Have you ever heard people say that the family who sits down to eat a meal together around the table sticks together through thick and thin? Too often we are so busy being busy with work, running to soccer practice, or dance, or baseball, or football, or another meeting, or shopping, or playing on the computer, or talking on the phone, or texting, or combing our hair, putting on makeup, or whatever, that we don’t take the time to sit down at the dinner table and reconnect with each other. There are many who never sit down together and break bread due to overwhelming schedules of life. It’s a pretty sad shame too, since there are many benefits to eating together as a family if you can fit it in your schedule. Now I’m not talking about sitting around the television in the living room with a television tray full of food. I am talking about honest to goodness “Pass me the potatoes please, and how was your day”? conversation.
There are so many benefits that result from being able to eat together and look one another in the eye and actually hear each other breathe. There was a study done by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth entitled “How American Children Spend Their Time,” which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family which found that having family time meals on a regular basis results in fewer behavioral problems. According to an article published in 2006 in “New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development”, family time dinners are even more important from a vocabulary standpoint than being read to. It was found that young children learn 1000 rare words at the dinner table in comparison to only about 145 words from parents who read books out loud to them. It only makes sense that there is more focus at the dinner table and obviously more comprehension. No television, no phones, no computers, no noisy noise for a few minutes…. Sounds too good to be true……..but something you might get used to… right?
Being able to sit down and eat together as a family gives you a sense of belonging, and reminds you that you don’t have to face this old world on your own. It’s important especially for young children to give them that sense of security as often as we can. So if you want to do something good for your family that will last and last, encourage everyone to try to sit down at the table at least for a few minutes, at least once or twice a week if you don’t already. It will make all the difference in the world. Children will remember those times for years to come, as they try to instill the same values, and quiet times in their own families that they were taught and can recall made a difference in their own lives and upbringing. Bind the family together and wrap them with the minutes of together moments forever. “So that’s what breathing sounds like?” Honest to goodness!
“I grew up in Oklahoma and Missouri, and I just loved film. My folks would take us to the drive-in on summer nights, and we’d sit on the hood of the car. I just had this profound love for storytelling.”
I can remember the days of the old drive-in theater that has pretty much gone away in America’s landscape today. I suppose the land prices have just been too good for the theater owners to pass up. You only see a few drive-in theaters left dotting across the country now. I can remember when we would all pile in my uncle’s pick-up truck in northern Oklahoma for a night at the movies. I think it cost a few dollars per carload back then on Saturday nights. We would pull out our lawn chairs and spread out behind the pick-up. Some of us kids would lay down in the bed of the truck for even better comfort. During the intermission, which was a break half-way through the movie, we would run up to the concession stand to buy our cokes and a big bag of fresh buttered hot popcorn.
The best part of the night really wasn’t watching the movies together. The best part was making family memories together and enjoying the stories we had to tell each other about what was going on in our lives. At the end of the night we had to make sure the speakers were taken off the car since my uncle had a hard time remembering the speakers were attached to the car windows. There was more than one time we almost ripped the speakers from their stands as we drove away from the theater for the night. I miss those summer nights!
Christmas is over! The last of the car doors slam shut with one final thud. She watches close as they back slow out of the narrow concrete driveway. Little Molly and Jimmie start to scuffle in the backseat as Jimmie yanks a piece of Molly’s long brown braided hair. She has just spent a wonderful Christmas with her four grown children, their wives, and seven grandchildren. Tires snug tight against the drive and turn inward as the hot rubber lets out one short and soft squeak. Time and wisdom has marked her face with the wrinkles of many Christmas days spent together. She waves, sad that the family must leave at the end of this very special day. She continues to wave her limp wrist hand until they are out of her sight.
Smoke from the exhaust slowly dissipates as she turns and trudges towards the front door. Her head is bowed down and arms hang low to each side. She clutches the handle of the screen door and she feels pinprick like pain in her arthritic hand. The hinges of the door creak as she enters. Alva turns, staring back through the woven wire in the screen into a past moment of time. Time has once again evaporated like the exhaust. Christmas is over and so she is alone again. Her husband of thirty-five years passed away three years ago this last spring. She must continue to face this day and this life alone. It’s especially difficult after Christmas when everyone has spent such a wonderful time together. Then it hits her hard again. Christmas is really over! Tears stream down her face on both sides as she stands alone staring through the screen door frozen by thoughts of time spent together with her dear husband. She recalls their many years together and all of the many Christmases gone by with the family.
Then her face brightens as she raises her arm and wipes the tears from her face with the sleeve of her dress. Alva recalls the many happy times she has had with her husband and family together. She smiles and thanks the good LORD for those many times that he has granted in her life. Yes Christmas is over and she is thankful for those times gone by. She pushes the door shut and clutches the memories in her heart. She holds on as tight as she can!