It’s winter, which means for the majority of the northern hemisphere it’s cold and snowy and there isn’t really a lot to do outside. When the day ends and the family is inside the house, there isn’t normally a ton of things to go out and do. Sure…there are activities like skating and hiking and skiing and sledding, but not every family does that every single night of the week that they’re together. In addition, poor weather can result in more time spent shoveling than anything else (at left is our front doorstep last winter…and yes, the snow was over 4-feet high WITHOUT drifts).
Usually once or twice a week, my family gets together for a couple of hours to either watch some pre-recorded television or something on Netflix. I don’t know about you, but we have our own little set of rituals that have…something that my own family growing up didn’t really have (eat supper during the news; don’t talk; watch tv with the folks after supper or go to your room if you want to watch something you’re actually interested in). The fact that I’ve got rituals with my wife and awesome stepdaughters makes me have “all the feels”. I’m really glad to be a dad, even if it is time spent inside instead of outside.
So what we normally do is have a “quickie meal” for dinner. It could be something like pizza grilled cheese sandwiches (which is a grilled cheese sandwich with pepperoni inside, then cut up into squares and dipped into pizza sauce) or pizza (made from scratch, of course…lol) or even Shepherd’s Pie…as long as it’s something that can easily be devoured while sitting on the couch and doesn’t take too long to make after the work day is done.
We have one couch and two small chairs for the girls. We usually have me sitting on the left-hand side of the couch, Sunshine sitting on the right-hand side, and one of the girls sitting in between us while the other girl sits off to the right in a chair. Halfway through the evening, the girls will switch spots in order to get their “snuggle time” in. Our television is in the corner of the living room. It’s not super-huge, but it’s 32″ and that’s definitely big enough for us (for now, anyway). The set-up is small and cozy and fits our family to a “t”.
We all change out of our work/school clothes and put on t-shirts and pajamas. It’s really a LOT more comfortable wearing pj’s at home, and one of the fun things the girls have done over the years is buy me silly pajama bottoms to wear (ex: Smurfs, Muppets, superheroes, etc.). It also gives us that feeling of comfort…that we’re all there to relax and enjoy what we’re about to watch.
Lately we’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother (the girls LOVE Barney, the character played by Neil Patrick Harris) and we’ve been introducing them to the glory that is Friends (my wife and I watched the entire 10-season run last year in a couple of months). Both of those series help us laugh together as a family…and that’s really important to me.
In addition, there have been some great family films that we’ve been watching together: Inside Out makes the girls cry EVERY time (lol), I really think that The Lego Movie is just brilliant and I find myself catching more tiny details every time I watch it, Tomorrowland is a movie I think that deserves a viewing but could have been a bit better defined storyline, and even The Avengers: Age of Ultron helps me bond with the oldest stepdaughter because she’s really into the “superhero movies” right now.
Sometimes we’ll pop some fresh popcorn, other times we’ll share a bag or two of chips. We may not even snack at all…it really just depends. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is the fact that we’re spending time together during a time of the year when we might just be each doing our own thing in the house…strangers living under the same roof.
I, for one, would much rather spend time together in a room talking and laughing and acting silly while watching Netflix than doing our own thing. It’s all about family time…something I didn’t experience when I was young.