Family Home Evening is a Mormon practice in which, once a week, all outside obligations are cancelled and the family spends Monday evening together. It’s a wonderful habit on our family, when I’m gone so much on other nights of the week. With seven kids ranging in age from teenagers to toddlers, it can get a little wacky, but we always enjoy it. We have established a rotation so that the older kids each take a turn in teaching the lesson; and a few months ago Jess and I came up with a list of topics that we felt needed to be taught in our home. We’ve combined the schedule with the list and so far it’s worked pretty well: nobody’s gotten tired of teaching yet, and we have an interesting discussion every week with only minimal disruption from the younger set (who, regardless of what’s going on during FHE, are generally either in motion or upside down, with their feet in the air).
Last night it was my turn to teach the lesson, and the assigned topic was “Aaronic Priesthood” (the lesser or preparatory priesthood of the Church, to which worthy young men ages 12-19 are ordained). We have a house full of girls, and I’m not sure how much they understand of this topic. Besides, I was tired after a long day. So we decided to turn the lesson into a game. Jeopardy!
I made a list of twenty pertinent questions of varying difficulty, four each under the headings Who, What, Where, How, and When. Meanwhile, Abby and Katie were cutting five different sheets of construction paper in to quarters, and labeling each quarter with a 2, 4, 6, or 8. The hardest questions were worth 8 points, the easiest, 2. The kids taped each paper under its heading on to my drawing table, which was raised almost vertical and turned 90 degrees so we could see it from the bedroom. The family sat on Mom & Dad’s bed (or ran around, depending on age) and took turns asking for categories (“’Where’ for 6 points!”), and I would ask the associated questions. It worked pretty well, only took about ten minutes to put together, and I’m not sure that they learned absolutely nothing. With kids, you might not know until years later what they learned.
After FHE come family prayer and the nightly Toothbrush Battle (kids go in the bathroom and flip water on each other and run around gnawing on each other’s toothbrushes, scrubbing the kitchen chairs and the dogs’ noses, and inventing new places to lose their toothbrushes. I think we’ve bought more toothbrushes than France. Once I found one under the piano. What does that have to do with brushing their teeth at night?). Afterwards comes the so-called Lights Out (do the lights actually go out? Well, sort of), Dad stokes the fire, Mom lets the dogs out, then in, the doors are locked, the dogs go out again, Natalie has somehow been magically transported in to Jacob’s room where they are gleefully battering Barbie with trucks, the dogs come back in, Mom hollers “Lights Out!” for the third time, the dogs come in, Dad reads the last chapter of “Nancy Drew and the Clue of the Dancing Puppet” to Abby and Katie (phew! Now for some real literature: tonight we’re starting on The Hobbit), the lights go out, and peace reigns. That’s a typical family home evening, after our Family Home Evening.