Family Home Evening for One


As a widow living alone, I wanted family home evenings, yet I didn’t know what to do. But when I finished my list, I had many choices.

Another Monday night—a night when families get together. I sighed as my memory wandered back to times when wonderful things happened on Monday nights. It was an evening filled with children’s laughter, the smell of cinnamon from a baking apple pie, and a great deal of secrecy as each child prepared his or her part for family night, an evening bustling with activity and happiness. I thought how my children now had children of their own who prepared their own family night assignments in faraway towns, and my evenings stretched out endlessly.

With the children and my husband gone, Monday nights cast a lonely shadow. As a single, I wondered what I could do on my own to observe and keep the spirit of family home evening.

Many people had suggested I get involved in group activities with other singles, but like many of my single friends, I no longer felt safe driving my car at night. Getting together with them was not the answer.

After spending a lot of time thinking about how my Monday nights could be family home evenings, I read the well-known scripture, “If any of you lack wisdom, … ask of God” (James 1:5). I decided to ask Heavenly Father for direction. Over the next few weeks I compiled a list of possibilities.

  • Monday night could be my family history night. I could write letters for information, enter facts on family group sheets or temple submission papers, and read books on family history. For years I’d felt I had little time to devote to my ancestors; now I realized I had an entire evening every week.

  • I could also think about my past, recalling days spent with my parents and siblings and later with my husband and children. I could write down these memories, thus beginning my own life story and, in a way, still spending the evening with family. Or why not make a journal of remembrance for each of my children by writing down the experiences—the antics, the triumphs, the adventures, the lessons—of their childhood?

  • Reading history, geography, and culture books about the times and lands of my progenitors could help me gain greater understanding and appreciation of their lives.

  • Church and municipal libraries and video rental stores have movies on families or travelogues I could borrow or rent about the areas where my progenitors once lived. I could even enjoy a food unique to those countries as I watch the videocassettes.

  • Occasionally I could call my children and grandchildren on the telephone and tell them of my love for them and feel their love for me.

  • I could change family night to family day and spend the day visiting others who are alone in nursing homes or hospitals. Reading to them, writing letters for them, or simply chatting with them can brighten their day. I could also volunteer time to help the homeless by working in a soup kitchen or shelter.

  • I love to knit and crochet. Why not make warm mittens and hats for needy children? I could watch Church videocassettes or listen to uplifting music or gospel-related audiocassettes while I work.

  • Working on family history records or on the records extraction program would be a great way to strengthen Heavenly Father’s eternal family.

  • Monday night would be a great time to study Relief Society, priesthood, and Sunday School lessons.

  • I enjoy discussing the gospel. Perhaps one of my friends and I could discuss on the telephone a particular scripture or share insights from our study of certain gospel principles. Alternatives would be to share stories about our ancestors or talk about goals and how to achieve them.

  • Boxes of my family photographs have been stowed away in my home for years. Why not organize them? I could put them in albums, writing names and dates on them as I go.

  • There are a lot of young families in the ward. I could plan dinner or a family night program and a special dessert and invite one of those families for a visit. In this way I could become better acquainted with them and help them feel welcome and comfortable in the ward.

  • I’ve always wanted to build a dollhouse and make all the furniture. Other interests include building a model ship and learning wood carving. I realized that it wasn’t too late to learn new skills or develop talents.

I used to dread Monday night because I thought I had nothing to do, but when I finished with my list I had almost too many choices! I had discovered that family home evening could still be family home evening in a quiet house filled with memories. I couldn’t wait for the next Monday!

[photo] Photo by Craig Dimond; posed by model

Bette J. (Gin) Theriot is a family records extraction worker and visiting teacher in the Riverside Ward, Colville Washington Stake.