Tonight, we threw together another family home evening. Being a kind of loosely-structured, creative family, we don't usually remember to plan FHE in advance, but we usually manage to have it anyway.
Here's how it went:
Well, we started at 2:00 am, interrupting Caleb's math lesson so that we could get to FHE before Tim had to start his evening's work (We're prepping to record no less than a dozen all-vocal albums. No joke. And still digging for gigs, arranging music, and all that other stuff Tim does all the time. Not to mention he picked up 4 more very interesting projects today that we're both intrigued by and excited about.)
First, we had an opening song ("Popcorn Popping") and then an opening song ("ABC") and then started an opening song ("I Am a Child of God").
Then we had the opening prayer.
So far so good.
Then there was some debate about who was going to give the lesson. Daniel wanted to teach a "music lesson" that somehow involved him banging on a little toy piano. Anda wanted everyone to be taught a lesson on how to cut apples into squares. Tim had a stack of church magazines in his lap and an idea for a lesson that was for real. Tim eventually got to start teaching. He gave everyone a magazine and we talked about what kinds of things God wants us to learn about, how we can learn about those things, what prophets do, and where else we can get God's word (like the scriptures!). It was a great lesson, which the kids were thoroughly involved in and I participated in as much as I could, including defining "stretching a dollar", while I dealt with the potatoes that were just done boiling right then.
Then Anda went to grab apples and knives (we talked her out of it), Daniel started banging the piano (we talked him out of it), Benji and Dan begged to taste the potatoes (which they did), and then we settled back down for the closing song and prayer.
Then we had a closing song (I think it was "ABC" again) and another closing song ("We are a Happy Family") and another closing song, all at the top of the kids' lungs, concluding with "Love at Home," Dan's favorite (and also delivered at the loudest volume the kids could muster), and interrupted with a lengthy quote from "Blues Clues" by Benjamin (a good part of it in Benjamese) starting with "A clue! A Clue! I see a clue!" and which he was frustrated I was unable to take the "other part" of--all because he noticed that there was a pawprint on Daniel's Blues Clues shorts. Then Tim took the second part of the Blues Clues dialogue, and sang a bit of the mailbox song from Blues Clues (which sent Benji careening around the house singing the rest and doing the dance while he ran).
When Benji finished, Caleb said a nice closing prayer.
Then everyone kind of drifted away, talking about the "activity" (which we always drift away discussing and never actually have) while I went in to finish dinner.
Thoroughly happy, I wondered aloud to Tim if the person who wrote Love at Home ever had kids. Where are the songs celebrating the joyful, noisy chaos of a family having fun and learning together? Whoever said a happy family consists of peaceful, quiet, churchlike atmosphere must have abused their children because healthy, happy kids aren't like that! And I don't think they should be.
I love having a big family!
I realize most families plan a little better, have FHE charts to make sure everyone gets turns to do something each week (instead of doing it like we do, where everyone gets turns to do all of whatever they like each week), do an organized activity, have a snack, have a reverent and quiet lesson. I kinda suspect most families don't sing "Twinkle Star" multiple times for both songs every week for two years.
I don't regret the way we do it, though. Our kids love family home evening. It works for our family, in all its chaotic, unplanned, by-the-seat-of-our-pants, noisy "structure". It's fun. When we forget, the kids literally pray that Mom and Dad won't forget family home evening next week. Nobody complains when we call it's time for FHE. It's short. It's fun. We learn a lot and laugh a lot and love a lot.
And isn't that what it's about?