January - The Gift of Family

Jennifer Hester |

The Gift OF Family

“Some people are born into wonderful families. Others must find or create them.
Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege which costs nothing but love”

The Gift of Family

When you hear the word ‘family’, what image comes to mind? Perhaps it is a group of people sitting at a dinner table, laughing and having a great time together. Maybe you see a park with a pavilion overflowing with people of all ages sharing stories and flipping burgers on the barbecue. You might think of a family building a sandcastle together on a bright, sunny day at the beach or taking a leisurely walk in the forest, hand in hand. No matter how you imagine family, there are common threads that these images have: a desire to be together, a hope to be the best you can be as a family unit, a need to be loved by each other and a passion to create a legacy for future generations. Families are like vitamins for the soul. They give strength; they help us heal, and they build immunities against the outside forces that can hurt us. This month is dedicated to the Gift of Family, learning how to build strong family ties and being there for each other.

Five Ways to Weave the Gift of Family into your Life

1. Conversation Starters
The Conversation Starters provided in this packet are carefully worded to begin the process of really thinking and talking about family. There are 8 questions and 4 blank cards for you to create questions of your own. Cut out the individual cards; place in a small bowl, and ask away at the dinner table, before you go to bed or while you’re on your way to Grandma’s house.
2. Family Experiences
The Experience Ideas “Our Unique Family Tree & Pledge” and “The Talking Wand: both detailed on the next page, will help your family create a sense of belonging. When everyone engages in new experiences that focus on family togetherness you will connect in ways like never before.
3. “Share the Gift” Note Card
As a family, send thoughtful note cards to someone who reminds you of the importance of family. It might be Granddad or the nice neighbor next door. Let him/her know that your family thinks the world of them; thank him/her for being a part of your family life and let him/her know how it is that they make your family complete.
4. The Family Journey Booklet
Give everyone in your family the opportunity to journal about the things you have done this month as you focused on The Gift of Family. What have you learned? What will you continue to do as a family? What kind of legacy does your family hope to leave? How will you share the Gift of Family with others?
5. New Holiday Traditions
The start of the New Year is the perfect time to begin a new tradition dedicated to family! Look for three great tradition ideas on the next page, all related to New Year’s Day. Look at how you and your family spend time together and what you are committed to doing in the future in order to build strong family ties.
Experience the Gift of Family

Our Unique Family Tree & Pledge
To strengthen family ties, you need to create a sense of belonging among family members. Write the name of each family member on a leaf, along with three words that best describe what makes that person such a valuable, cherished part of the family. For example, Mary is kind, cheerful, and good at math. Johnny is fun, athletic, and a great singer. Mom is organized, thoughtful and makes yummy cookies. Then attach the leaves to your Family Tree.

Next, discuss the action words that describe your family. Words that come to mind might be: loving, accepting, loyal, honest, fun, or supportive. Write the top five words under Our Family Pledge. Every Family is different, and every family will have its own unique set of words. Make sure everyone takes part in this activity.

To create a sense of belonging you need to commit to spending time together as a family. Make a list of five activities you can promise to do with each other: dinner together with no cell phones and no TV, weekly Family Fun Nights, one-on-one “dates” for parents and kids, summer camping trips, video interviews at Thanksgiving. You get the picture. It doesn't matter what the activities are, only that you make family time a priority by scheduling them into your calendar and protecting family time as if it were precious – because it is.

The Talking Wand
In healthy, happy families, each person has a voice that is heard and respected by all. Yet every family has “talkers” and “leaders” who tend to dominate most conversations and waiting one’s turn to talk can be difficult, especially for young children. The Talking Wand will magically “give the floor” to the next speaker each time it is passed on. Create a wand using a wooden stick or dowel rod and decorate it with ribbons and charms that represent each member of the family. This will become such a valuable part of your dinner table décor that you will search for substitutes when you go out to eat. French fries make a great substitute!

Tradition Ideas

Dedicated to Us
Start the New Year off right by scheduling one full Family Day dedicated to spending quality time with your loved ones. No work, no chores, no errands, no school, no phones, no computers and no TV! Just time together doing the things that you love to do. Sleep in, go to lunch take a walk in the forest; break out the deck of cards; make homemade ice cream or what it is that you enjoy doing as a family. Let your friends know that you are busy that day and agree to let voicemail take your messages. Consider not using any electricity at all, but rather dine by candlelight and read a book out loud together using a flashlight. Be sure you put the date on your calendar and make it an official holiday year after year, a day to kick off the New Year right, a day that everyone will understand is “Dedicated to Us.”

Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours!
Being a part of a family means to care for each other, love each other and help each other whenever we can. Sometimes, however, it is important to ask for the help and support you need from your family members. As much as they would love to help, they don’t always know what we need unless we tell them. Since New Year’s Day is associated with all kinds of new projects and new commitments, make this the month in which you support each other in whatever new goals you would like to achieve. Johnny might want to get his car cleaned once and for all but can’t face it alone. Dad might want to shed a few pounds but needs everyone to be refrigerator monitors for him. Whatever you need help with this month, as for support from the group of people who love you the most and feel the satisfaction of working together to make life better for everyone.

Bon Appetite!
New Years Day doesn't always mean “out with the old and in with the new.” Some things are so good that we should carry them over from year to year. Take your family’s meals for example! Start a New Year’s Day tradition where everyone has a voice in creating a favorite family meal. On small slips of paper, write the words: Main Course, Vegetable, Fruit, Bread, and Dessert. Take turns drawing a slip of paper. Whatever word each family member draws, he/she gets to decide what to choose in the category to contribute to this favorite meal. Go grocery shopping together, and then turn up your favorite music as all the chef’s in the house work together to prepare everyone’s favorite meal. Top it off with compliments for each of the chef’s by going around the table and sharing what you love about the dishes they chose.

Is there a gift you’d like to give someone?

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:5