We were closing in on 4 months of living in a house overtaken by our latest business venture, making and selling natural deodorant. The living room was piled with boxes of materials and the kitchen was covered over in double boilers and all the other STUFF involved in making the products. Business had picked up rapidly which meant long hours of work and a neglected house to show for it.
Chaos prevailed everywhere. The most you could make in our kitchen was cereal, and I would hope you would plan on eating that standing up because the table had long since been buried as well.
In that space and that season, I got the crazy idea to listen to Sally and Sarah Clarkson’s Life-giving Home book. It’s all about creating special spaces and memories for our family that enrich everyone’s lives. It’s an idea I loved and aspire to, and was falling far short of just then especially.
I looked around me and I couldn’t begin to imagine how on earth I would create a special place for my kids in the rubble that was our home. I didn’t know when I could possibly find time to get to life-giving meals that warm the body and the soul.
But that’s when I realized, as my kids are constantly making me realize again and and again, that things don’t have to be well-manicured, or really even all that involved, to be special.
So I sat a card table up in the middle of that living room piled with boxes and toys and bags of unattended groceries. I put a pretty tablecloth on it and lit a few candles. Then I made my kids dinner straight from the repackaged food aisle a la the microwave and we sat together in the chaos and shared a meal.
And do you know what?
It was magical.
It was sweet and special and warmed our bodies and our souls – even though there was still absolute madness all around us — even though I didn’t technically make the meal — even though it was brief and there was still work to be done that evening — even though it was just a card table and a few candles.
All that to say, I am forever learning that it doesn’t take much to make childhood enchanting. We put so much pressure on ourselves that is unnecessary.
I’m also learning that because it doesn’t take much, even our most chaotic seasons are no excuse to neglect those quality moments with our families altogether.
My girls still mention this night months later. They thought that simple experience was the coolest thing and even now that our living room is (mostly) cleared and the kitchen table has been reclaimed, they want to know when we can set up a card table at the couch again.
To be sure, there are still plenty of nights in our house where we get swept away with busy life and nothing magical happens. There are still other nights like tonight when it’s all I can do to get dinner on the table, only to have the toddler shout about needing a change from his newly explosive diaper just as I’m about to finally sit down.
Even with all that though, I still truly believe that special memories will always meet us where we’re at, so long as we’re open to them.