Every family seems to have their thing that binds them together. That activity they do together that cements their bond with one another.
For some families it is music. Some families are just plain musical. Music is part of who they are and what binds them together. Perhaps they all sing together or they all play musical instruments. Or maybe they all love going to concerts and listening to their favorite bands together. (Jason and Jack enjoy this – but concert tickets are so totally wasted on tone-deaf me.)
Other families may bond over another kind of American heavy metal and find that everything NASCAR is what binds them together. They love to talk all things racing and bond over days spent in the stands listening to the roar of engines and watching the blur of cars flying by them. They can and do debate and discuss pit stops and tires and numbers and team owners and drivers and crew chiefs for hours. (Will regularly goes through “NASCAR phases” and our beloved nephew Nic is positively encyclopedic about all things NASCAR!)
Some families are sporty and athletic. Sports are what bind them together. Not just talking sports and watching sports on television – but actually participating in sporty activities. They play soccer together or they run together. I have heard of families that train for and run entire marathons together! (Or perhaps this is just an urban legend to make the rest of us feel lazy and slovenly . . . )
Some families bond over food (okay that would probably be ALL of us – at least the EATING part). They enjoy cooking together. They delight in trying new ingredients. New recipes. Foods that are new to them fill their hearts (and stomachs) with joy. Exploring the world and other cultures through their palates is how they bond. They don’t have favorite family recipes or favorite restaurants that they return to time after time because they are always trying something new and exciting and adventurous. (I have far too many food allergies to do this – but I really – really wish I could!)
The McFarlands’ “thing” is nature. We all enjoy exploring nature. I wish I could say it was hiking – but the littlest McFarland isn’t a huge fan of hiking. (Wow is that a serious understatement). Our sweet William still views hiking like a forced march – as something to be endured and suffered through until his mean-y pants parents stop with the cruelty. . .
But Will does love to explore nature. He does love to climb over logs and flip rocks and toss stones and look into holes in the ground. Will does love to explore and so do his parents and big brother. All of us could spend hour after hour in the woods and we do. We are all a bunch of tree hugging – nature nuts at heart.
Another thing that binds us together is art.
From the moment Jack was old enough to hold a crayon – Jason and I have made sure that our sons had access to an abundance of art supplies.
This was incredibly important to me. It was one of my parenting “non-negotiables.” My kids would have access to art supplies galore and they would have free-reign with them (well almost) – I declared long before they were even born.
Yes – it has led to some interesting results. Jack gave himself some pretty intriguing/surprising tattoos when he was in preschool with Sharpie markers. I was especially fond of the Spiderman webs that covered both of his arms and most of his torso for over a week! Jack also taped his fingers together so well – it took both of his parents to remove the tape while we watched his fingers quickly lose circulation and get cold to the touch. (FYI – Scotch tape makes a shockingly good tourniquet!?!?!?!) And there was the time one of our golden retriever puppies chewed on a green Sharpie marker and turned herself Saint Patrick’s Day green for weeks . . . Even bright green she was adorable – but I would have gladly skipped cleaning up that mess!
Goofy mishaps aside – I absolutely delight in the joys and blessings and gifts that come from the creativity that results from having art supplies all over our house. Seriously – we have art supplies all over our home. The art supplies are part of what makes our house a home.
There is a metal bin full of Sharpies and a wooden container of cardstock in the middle of our dining room table ALL of the time. Some folks have a fancy – tasteful – seasonal centerpiece on their dining room table – we have Sharpies and cardstock. (I think this is beautiful. It is literally a dream come true for me.) We keep tape and scissors there too.
Our living room has a cozy corner where I keep yarn for the knitting and crocheting projects I am ALWAYS working on. But I also keep yarn in the living room in baskets for inspiration – because I like yarn and yarn makes me smile. We have embroidery supplies in the living room too. (Jack and I prefer to keep supplies close at hand. You never know when inspiration will strike!)
Our basement looks like an art teacher’s craft supply room. We have canvases – paint – beads – wire – clay – duct tape in a wild array of colors – balloons for balloon animals – origami paper – glue in many forms – pipe cleaners – ribbon – magnets – washi tape – ship models and paracord too. Everything I wasn’t allowed to do or have when I was a kid – my sons have in triplicate! (My parents were obsessed with making sure that my childhood home looked like NO children lived there – ever. It was freaky weird . . .)
Jack has a corner of the basement set up for his screen printing and I have most of my yarn stash lovingly stored (hidden) down there too. We have a whole room in the basement we call “the Lego Room.”
When we travel – the art supplies are the first things the McFarland sons pack. The idea of being away from their favorite craft supplies for any length of time is apparently incomprehensible to them! (I have trained them well and am so proud!)
Someone is always making something at our house. It is who we are.
Jack doodles and draws and embroiders and sews and screen prints and this year he has discovered the incredible joys of black and white photography.
Will loves to draw and makes Lego models and creations that leave me in awe. He also creates some seriously nifty models with tape and scissors and paper and lots of patience.
Jason builds models.
I play with string. I will do just about anything crafty – but yarn is my one true crafting love (okay – obsession). I return to making with yarn every single day.
What about you? What is your special “thing?” What fills you with joy and delight? What binds you just a bit closer to the folks you love most in this world? What makes your heart sing? What do you and your loved ones love to do together? What is that common thread that ties you all together?
These things are such wonderful blessings. I encourage you to celebrate them. To give thanks for them. To focus on them and delight in them. And – of course – to talk NASCAR – listen to music – share a meal – play cards or board games or your favorite on-line adventure – or go for a swim – hike – jog – stroll – or whatever it is that strengthens your bonds with those you love most in this life!
In Christ and with Love –