Try all you like, you simply cannot find a substitute for the family. God planned it that way. In spite of all we’re reading and seeing these days designed to make us think we’ve entered the family-phase-out era, don’t you believe it! There is nothing on earth that comes close to the benefits derived from relationships revolving around our roots. Nothing.
Edith Schaeffer’s book What Is a Family? offers some wise and meaningful answers:
the birthplace of creativity
a shelter in the time of storm
a perpetual relay of truth
a door that has hinges and a lock
an educational control
a museum of memories
Sometimes those family memories are absolutely hilarious. I think back to an incident around the Swindoll supper table that I related in my book You and Your Child.
Before supper began I suggested to Curtis (who was six) that he should serve Charissa (she was four) before he served himself. Naturally, he wondered why, since the platter of chicken sat directly in front of him . . . and he was hungry as a lion. I explained it is polite for fellas to serve girls before they serve themselves. The rule sounded weird, but he was willing . . . as long as she didn’t take too long.
Well, you’d never believe what occurred. After prayer, he picked up the huge platter, held it for his sister, and asked which piece of chicken she wanted.
She relished all that attention. Being quite young, however, she had no idea which piece was which. So, very seriously, she replied, “I’d like the foot.”
He glanced in my direction, frowned as the hunger pains shot through his stomach, then looked back at her and said, “Uh . . . Charissa, Mother doesn’t cook the foot!”
To which she replied, “Where is it?”
With increased anxiety he answered (a bit louder), “I don’t know! The foot is somewhere else, not on this platter. Look, choose a piece. Hurry up.”
She studied the platter and said, “Okay, just give me the hand.”
By now their mother and father were biting their lips to refrain from laughing out loud. We would have intervened, but decided to let them work it out alone. That’s part of the training process.
“A chicken doesn’t have a hand, it has a wing, Charissa.”
“I hate the wing, Curtis . . . Oh, go ahead and give me the head.”
By then I was headed for the bathroom. I couldn’t hold my laughter any longer. Curtis was totally beside himself. His sister was totally frustrated, not being able to get the piece she wanted.
Realizing his irritation with her and the absence of a foot or hand or head, she finally said in an exasperated tone, “Oh, all right! I’ll take the belly button!”
That did it. He reached in, grabbed a piece, and said, “That’s the best I can do!” He gave her the breast, which was about as close to the belly button as he could get.
Fun. Just plain ol’ nutty times when hearty laughs and silly remarks dull the edge of life’s razor-sharp demands and intensity. Families and fun go together like whipped cream on a hot fudge sundae.
Those family memories are deeply profound and stabilizing.