Friday, February 11, 2011

Forced Family Fun time

We are THAT family. That family that scares you a little bit by how much they enjoy each other's company. That family that will take a European Vacation together and reenact the scene from National Lampoon's European Vacation. That family that has family traditions that waver on the line of bizarre. Sure, most people get special Christmas pajamas for Christmas, but do you get matching ones from babies to grandmas? 
(And no, there is no magic 3-D image that appears if you relax your eyes.)
Or do your pjs make your men look like the just broke out of a prison run by Dr. Seuss? 
Better yet, do you decide to take your family holiday photo in your new pj's, in a hot tub, in thirty degree weather?

It is stuff like this that makes our family laugh and creates memories that we cherish even though we may groan as we are partaking in some of our weird family activities.

Growing up my mom was the enforcer of "Forced Family Fun Time." This was time together as a family that was not optional. We had to participate, whether we were in the mood to or not. Sometimes that would be sitting down and playing a game together. Losers having to do the dinner dishes. (This is why I am not a great house keeper because household chores were for losers.) 

Other times it was watching a movie together on a VCR that we had rented from the video store because my folks were usually 5 to 10 years behind investing into the current technological hardware. When my brothers and I entered into Jr. High and High School, there was one night a week that we were required to be home to have dinner together as a family and then some F.F.F.T! Although we would sometimes complain (if you ask my mom, I bet she would say ALWAYS complained) once we were involved in the game we were having a blast and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

I promise, we are capable of taking a normal family portrait... 

But this is really more normal for us than the one above!

As I now have my own growing family, I recognize that I am going to be the enforcer of F.F.F.T! And that I want my girls to have those cherished family memories, groans and all. What I am finding is that a family that enjoys being together is not necessarily the norm. When I moved two states away from my family for college, they were still my first phone call when I needed support. My brothers are amazing men and they got incredibly lucky with the women they got to agree to marry them and step into our odd family. We tease each other relentlessly, but that is only to help keep one another humble and to truly show our love.

I hope I can duplicate what both my mom and dad did of being intentional with our time together as a family. That started with them being intentional with each other. It was so comforting as a child knowing that Mom came first to my dad, not us. And vice versa, Dad was first with my mom. We came a close second, but there was no question that they were each other's first! 

So even though my girls are young we have our own traditions started like Harvest Day around Halloween. We will go to the pumpkin patch, then invite friends over to carve pumpkins, decorate cookies, and eat pumpkin seeds. 

At Easter we decorate eggs and make cupcakes that look like Easter baskets.

So even though so many may think us weird, I think it's wonderful. I feel truly blessed that my childhood experience continuing now into my adulthood experience is filled with great memories with my family. There is something attractive and inviting of entering a home that you can physically feel the love and acceptance as soon as you walk through the door. I am grateful to all of my friend's families that have welcomed me in over the years and treated me as a daughter/sister. I have my work cut out for me with so many examples to choose from to try and duplicate for my budding family. 

Thanks Mom for Forced Family Fun Time!