Special Time on Your Own Doorstep


What makes an occasion special is not so much about what you do or where you go (or how much you spend) but instead about the quality of attention you bring. I already knew this truth, but I was reminded of it this weekend.

After our second or third goodnight kiss on Saturday, Margot (age 5-1/2) called out again, “Mommy?” A typical stalling tactic, but I went back into her room. She asked me what we were doing the next day, and I told her I didn’t know. Her confident response: “But it’s going to be special, right?” “Yes,” I assured her.

Her certainty that it would be special moved me almost to tears. How grateful I am that her life is happy and secure enough that she expects good! My husband Reece and I basked for a moment in her optimism. And then we started to feel pressure to make something special happen. Reece needed to spend a good chunk of the next day time working, so we had just a few hours of “family time,” and we wanted to make the most of it. We began plotting various possible excursions.

In the morning, the weather was bleak — rainy with gusty wind, which meant that zoo and beach were out, and probably our favorite public-transportation adventure to the Academy of Sciences wouldn’t work so well either. There were no movies appropriate for our kids. But we wanted our family time to be special. Our suggestions of museums fell flat, and the kids started clamoring to watch videos — hardly my idea of special.

And then Reece suggested we have a “family game day.” The kids jumped at the idea, and we spent the next three hours playing cards and board games. It was a blast. We played Old Maid and Spoons and Blokus. All of us were totally engrossed in our play and being together. No cell phones or email to divide our attention, nor any schedules or timetables to meet. No technology. Miraculously we had no sore losers nor gloating winners. I won’t soon forget seeing my son and husband doing the “Old Maid” dance, our antidote to the chagrin of being stuck with the extra card. We laughed a lot. We also had time to model valuable lessons of being a good sport, having fun, and paying attention, and to teach some reasoning and strategy. It was truly special family time.

We didn’t need a different venue to make it special. We just needed to be together having fun. Note to self: worry less about the production value and more about living our values.