“How many does it take to hold a family home evening? Two? Three? One?”
A counselor in a stake presidency asked this question at a meeting I attended many years ago. His answer was that it takes no more than one person, and he challenged everyone to hold family home evening weekly.
Family home evening for a single person? Is this a realistic expectation? How can it be done?
In the years since I heard that challenge, I have tried various methods of holding family home evening: joining with traditional families, joining with other singles (voluntarily or by assignment), and holding a truly single home evening. I have found several ways in which I have enjoyed great growth through family home evening.
In the first few years of my Church membership, I especially appreciated being invited to join in the home evenings of traditional families. While it was easy to feel like an observer rather than a participant, it gave me a chance to see how faithful Latter-day Saint families operate. Since I had joined the Church as a young adult, this experience was invaluable.
Another successful family home evening plan was a joint effort with a good friend in Texas. We met on Sundays for a lesson and dinner, one week at her house, and the next at mine. We each lived alone and, in addition to the lessons and friendship we shared, our meetings gave us an excuse to prepare and share a good meal.
The home evening groups to which I was assigned at Brigham Young University and later in a singles ward were mixed blessings. The university groups weren’t bad; we lived close together in the dormitories and were almost a family. But in my singles ward, our home evening groups could have benefited from more careful direction or planning. The major activity of our groups seemed to be parties. I called them “least common denominator” groups; we often did whatever the least number would find objectionable.
Currently, my favorite family home evenings are those Monday nights when I shut my door to the world and have my own private time. There is a difference between this activity and just another night at home. It doesn’t seem to matter exactly which worthwhile activity I choose during this time, but an opening prayer is critical. Somehow, the spirit present is different then. I may spend time researching a question in the scriptures or reading about it from books in my personal library. Or I may pursue a cultural activity. What a blessing these evenings can be! Often, the knowledge gained improves the decisions I make.
I have found that just as traditional families can, I can profit from ideas in family home evening manuals from past years and in the current Family Home Evening Resource Book. (It can be ordered from Church distribution center; stock number PBHT5197.) Lessons on families and family relationships may be harder to handle for those of us who do not have our own spouse and children, but often these lessons can be adapted to help us learn human relations skills. Such skills are important for singles, too—if only to help us be successful in our professional lives. And we must never forget our hope in the gospel that such lessons will someday prove necessary as we deal with an eternal companion and offspring of our own!
In addition to family-oriented lessons, there are lessons that are directly applicable to our situation as singles, and many lessons that apply to everyone, not just to families with children.
During one special home evening, I studied my patriarchal blessing, seeking pertinent messages for today. Tears came to my eyes as I felt anew the love of my Heavenly Father. Once again, I was sincerely grateful for this personal revelation and direction. Shortly afterward, I planned a goal-setting evening. I sometimes get caught up in the objectives of those around me—goals that are not right for me. So during my home evening, I readjusted my course, taking into account my own eternal priorities.
All of us need to take time to measure our lives and activities against gospel standards. Like a visit to the temple, family home evening can give us a chance to shut out the voices of the media, co-workers, and associates who may not hold our standards. We can be honest with ourselves and recommit ourselves to the ideals we value.
Cultural activities can help balance lives that might otherwise become lopsided. Sometimes my activity may be as simple as reading a book of good poetry or watching a fine play from educational television. One especially enjoyable lesson from an old family home evening manual was about writing Haiku poetry. (See also pages 302–304 of the Family Home Evening Resource Book.) I had never tried it previously and haven’t since, but it was a memorable evening—even though it happened more than fifteen years ago!
Other activities for a single member’s home evening can include family history and missionary work, welfare and service projects. Or there is always writing a letter to a loved one or friend.
Sometimes I have felt that there is just not enough time for everything. However, regardless of what demands are made on my time, I have found that it is critical to take time for spiritual nourishment and growth. Family home evening helps me strengthen my personal stores of faith and knowledge.
My solitary home evenings may not be appropriate for everyone. How family home evening is implemented in the life of a single person is best left to the individual; each should select the approach that suits his or her situation and personality. But single members who have no children should not assume that home evening is only for traditional families. I know from experience that home evening can be a blessing in the life of a single person, too.