A lot of our childhood memories are of ordinary days – the way our dad would walk around the house singing “Down in the Dumps I’ll Never Go.” (Yes, my dad sang that a lot.) Or, how in the evenings, we would time each other running around the block.
But sometimes memories come from out-of-the-ordinary days,
Like the evening Dad said we should go Christmas caroling.
Ok, it was Christmas. The weather outside was snowy and our entire family was together.
However, half of us didn’t sing. (I mean seriously didn’t sing.) Only one house was located within a mile radius. To get to the house, we would need to walk through a solid wall of woods. But Dad (one of the NON-singers) decided we should go caroling. And so we did.
I can count on one finger how many times we went Christmas caroling with Dad – because THAT was it.
My brother and I still occasionally talk about that night: the tramping through the silent woods, the snowflakes floating down and our very off-key version of Joy to the World.
Yes, the ordinary days are memorable, but sometimes it’s good to stick an out-of-the ordinary memory in there too.
Like one of these — these aren’t necessarily teaching moments, but anytime we share activities with families and friends and thanking the Lord for those people is VERY much a teaching moment.
1. A walk outside at night. (Yes, like the one I just described.) This can be through the woods, around a safe residential neighborhood, or even the city. The lights of a city on a misty, rainy night can be eye-catching and beautiful.
2. A look at the night sky. If you have a telescope — that’s great. If you don’t, see if you can borrow one. And/or there are apps that you can point to the sky and they identify the different stars, etc. that you’re looking at. (Night Sky App is one that popped up when I looked, but I have not used this one, so not recommending it — just getting you in the right direction.)
3. A change in school routine. Does Mom//Dad always drive the kids to school? Why not totally change the routine? If possible, the “other” parent goes to work late and walks the kids to school — maybe even sharing donuts on the way.
4. A day trip to the place the kids have always wanted to go. You’ve taken them to Grandma’s and to the Grand Canyon and to Disney World, but that kids’ museum the next town over that they’ve been begging to go to since they were five? You’ve always put it off for someday. Why not plan a someday and go?
5. A tree house or fort to play in. The next time you have a day off work, why not surprise your kids by working with them to build a fort, tree house, or playhouse?
6. An outdoor picnic. Ok, most picnics are outdoors, but how about one in mid-winter when there’s snow on the ground? You could even get the firewood ready on a warmer day and be ready for your cold picnic. Bring lots of hot chocolate, soup, or go fancy and grill burgers. Weave an imaginative story for your kids about the adventure that you’re on.
7. A popcorn and movie party. Your kids are all nestled in their beds, thinking dreamy thoughts (or thoughts about getting out of bed), and someone starts ringing a bell in the family room saying that it’s Movie Night. How much fun to get out of bed, run to the family room, munch on popcorn and watch a favorite show?
8. A note in the lunchbox. Ok, not that extra-ordinary. Parents have been writing notes in lunchboxes for years. But why not get them looking forward to the evening? “Something special for dinner.” “Brought a small surprise home for you today.” “Taught Rover a new trick — wait until you see it!”
9. A late night. Choose a non-school night and let them stay up as late as they want to. Really. No limits. Do a library run for both DVDs and books if you’d like. Get some healthy snacks. Put out a couple games and go for it. Some kids can make it quite awhile, others will quickly fall asleep.
10. A trip to a parent’s workplace. Yes, there are official take-your-child-to-work days, but how about an unofficial day? Do you have a task at your workplace that your child could do? Maybe it’s organizing your bookcase or drawing a picture for the wall. Why not invite your child to come to work. Introduce them as “my assistants,” and take them out to lunch. Let them know what you do
11. A trip to church. Most kids see church on Sundays and other times during the week when people are around. They see the pastor behind the pulpit or at least on the platform. Arrange a time with your pastor to go out for coffee (or ice cream). Ask your child to make a list of questions he/she would like to ask and then go to church. Your child might be fascinated to see the auditorium without any people in it or running around the empty church all-purpose room. Then go to your planned coffee/ice cream place and allow your child to interview the pastor.
12. A service project. Sometimes we tell kids to help Mrs. Burnette next door rake her leaves or to run across the street and help the Smiths bring in their groceries. But why not find a family service project where you all work together to help someone?
Ordinary days are great.
But every once-in-a-while, plan an out-of-the-ordinary one.