A New Ring for Home Evening
Family home evening has been important to all of our eight children over the past twenty years. Each child has taken his turn offering the prayers, leading the singing, and preparing the refreshments.
At one point, however, we seemed to be spending less and less time preparing for this important time together. The assignment charts had become so commonplace that nobody looked at them anymore. I finally decided that we needed a new way to remind everyone of his or her responsibilities for home evening.
One day, while I was musing on this problem, I noticed the napkin rings my parents had brought us from Japan. We had never used them. My immediate thought was that they would enhance the appearance of our dinner table. The children had become negligent in their table setting, and prodding had only brought resentment. Then another idea struck. Why not solve both problems at once? The rings would help keep the table neater and prettier, and they could also be used as family home evening assignment reminders.
I cut family home evening assignment symbols from Christmas cards and magazines—a candy cane for refreshments, praying figures for opening and closing prayers, a singing angel for the music, and so on—and glued one on each napkin ring. Using the rings daily reminded us of our family home evening assignments. Each week, as the assignments were rotated, so were the napkin-ring reminders.
I remember waiting to see how my new idea would work. The first signal of success came when my oldest son mentioned about midweek that he had already planned his part for the following Monday.
Those ring reminders served us well for many years. Perhaps because of the dual role they played, they were never ignored.
Seriously Now …
When our children were young, we made sure we had uninterrupted attention during the serious side of family home evening by asking them, “Shall we have this many minutes to talk about our Heavenly Father?” Then we set the clock for fifteen or twenty minutes and showed where the hands would be when it was time for games or fun.
As we taught the gospel, we tried to relate everything we said to something our children could understand. For instance, we pointed out that when Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he was about as old as Uncle Eddy. We used paper cut-out figures to tell stories and picked dandelions for a lesson on flowers and seeds.
We introduced a new song almost every week. I sang the song to teach the melody and words, then told the little ones and any adults present to sing the part of the song I indicated. The children were delighted, for instance, to sing “all is well, all is well” or “love at home.” They could participate this way while learning the lyrics.
We knew we’d been doing something right the family home evening our four-year-old said, “We didn’t have serious time very long, did we? Maybe we better have some more!”