My favorite family night didn’t start out so well. In fact, Dad and Mom sent Nicole and me to bed. We were six and seven at the time, so you can imagine that we weren’t too happy to see that two-year old Janelle was allowed to stay up, and was actually playing! She was smugly pushing her toy shopping cart up and down the hallway in front of our room—no doubt attempting to rub it in.
But after a few minutes, Dad and Mom came back to our room and announced we were going somewhere in the car. But they told us NOT to change out of our flannel onesies. We were going on a PAJAMA RIDE! Talk about excitement! I felt a little strange walking into Dunkin Donuts in yellow pajamas, but the glazed donut cured all my embarrassment.
I think what makes this particular memory still so vivid twenty years later is the element of surprise. Dad and Mom weren’t just out to build special memories, but they created a little culture of anticipation amongst my sisters and me! We never knew what they were going to plan next!
Dad and Mom were also very intentional about building a culture of encouragement. One family night in particular was built around a theme of encouragement. At dinner, we took turns encouraging each member of the family. Then we made sugar cookies using alphabet cookie cutters. We had to spell out a word that described a character quality of one particular family member we had been assigned to encourage. Then, we had to honor that person sometime over the next week.
My final family night memory is more recent. In fact, I was courting Brian at the time, so he participated in this one. It was “Mystery Night.” The suspense began with dinner. Each family member had been assigned a particular aspect of the meal (appetizer, main course, side dish, dessert, etc.) the week before. We could decide what we would make, but we had to keep our dish a secret. So, when we showed up for dinner, we had a surprise of a meal—including peanut butter sandwiches, fancy salad, green bean casserole, shrimp cocktail, and kool-aid. To set the mood we had mystery music in the background. The game for that evening was an invigorating round of Clue. We finished off with a frightening Alfred Hitchcock flick.
Maybe Brian and I will have mystery night with our boys someday. What fun activities has your family enjoyed? Please send us your ideas!