These days, it’s hard to stay connected to family, even to family members living under the same roof. Everyone is flying off in different directions with different activities or staring into glowing screens like zombies.
And while my family tries to have dinner together most of the time, I’m amazed at how many people I talk to whose family virtually never eats together.
Me, I’m always looking for ways to connect better, and NOT in front of the TV. Fortunately, we’ve been at it for a while, and my teenagers actually like sitting down to play cards or a board game. Their friends say it’s weird, but almost immediately admit that they did it in their homes, too.
Still, if no one has time, it’s hard to suddenly change everyone’s routine, especially later in the day. Just try scheduling a spontaneous afternoon picnic with everyone in the family, and you might have a mutiny. Nearly everyone will already have something planned.
So here’s an idea that I haven’t thought about for many years. It was a trick my mom used to pull every so often, despite having a gaggle of boys in the house.
Every now and then, she’d get us out of bed on a Saturday and take us to breakfast. Only it wasn’t at a restaurant. She would pack bacon, eggs, pancake batter, and a pot of coffee, along with plates, silverware and whatever else we’d need to ‘eat out.’ She would also pack up an electric grill and a very long extension cord.
We’d head up the mountain near our house to a nearby state park, where we’d set up on a picnic table under some trees. No need to rent the pavilion. We’d just mooch off an electrical outlet and run the industrial extension cord over to our table. (Most established parks do have power of some kind that you can use. Check first, or you might be frustrated.)
We’d fix breakfast and eat, then spend some time lounging around the park before heading home and starting our day.
At the time, I think all my brothers and I crabbed when we had to get out of bed and we probably crabbed most of the way to the park. Once there, we accepted our fate and then discovered we’d just been given a rare treat…time together, a break in our routine and memories that have lasted a very long time.