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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Heathen Family Home Evening

This week I had Heathen Family Home Evening ((H)FHE) with my sister. We plan to have (H)FHE every Monday night just like a normal mormon family but she had to work late this past Monday so we had it on Tuesday instead. 

Family Home Evening is one of those things I picked up on when I lived in Utah. And since me and my sister are on the periphery of mormonism but definitely not real mormons by any stretch of the imagination we jokingly call it "Heathen FHE". 

This week was kinda the first week of this new tradition. For the past year, my sister and I didn't really talk to each other. She is 8 years younger than me and had to go out in the world and grow up and now she is an adorable, sweet, responsible young woman who is gracefully and bravely continuing to live her life in the wake of her mother's sudden death a few weeks ago

After all the dust settled from the funeral and we both made it safely back home, I asked her if she would have (H)FHE with me every Monday. 

I enjoy FHE because, while it is about family, to me it is really about community: It is not an exclusive activity, but an inclusive one. My sister and I have FHE at my house and my roommates come and go with their stories and conversations and it would also be OK to include a friend or even a stranger. We just spend time making and eating dinner and catching up with each other about the week or doing a simple project like making ice cream or creating post cards. Its really basic. And that is why I like about it. It is a night to honor the folks who are, for whatever reason, in my living room that night. And its one night a week which is dedicated to celebrating the joy and love that these people bring into my life. It doesn't matter if they've been in my life 21 years or 21 hours. I just matters that they're here and that we all are appreciative of each other's existence. 

Our culture seems to be set up for people to honor their spouse of their partner in many ways on many days through out the year. We also have ways to show love and appreciation for our parents and children (if you've got 'em). But what about everyone else? Since college I've started to feel like the only way to honor friends is to take them out to dinner or to throw a party all of which requires driving around town and parking and spending a lot of money and energy and often leaves me so exhausted that I wish I didn't have any friends to begin with. 

Setting aside one night a week to gather with the folks who are important in my life feels incredibly comforting and rewarding. Observing Heathen Family Home Evening is a great way to make a habit of honoring everyone in my life: my sister, my roommates, my friends and my Singlutionary dog. We sit around and share good company, laughter, simple homemade food and (if your heathen like me) a bottle of wine. But really we mainly sit around being grateful for each other.  

Call it whatever you want but I heart this new tradition. And I heart it even more because it has nothing to do with spending or status. Its really about just being us, whoever we are, no matter what we're going through. 


thelady said...

this is similar to that idea of single tribes, basically single people who move away from family and form new family groups that meet informally at each others homes

Stevi said...

This is amazing. I love that you do your own form of FHE that you picked up from Utah. :) it is a great time to spend with family or friends and not have to plan a big expensive hassle.

Clever Elsie said...

It's very true. We don't have a widely celebrate Friendship Day or Siblings Day or Cousins Day or really any good excuse to give a little gift or get together for dinner. Celebrations are usually reserved for milestone birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and other occasions marked by extravagant parties and gift-giving. I think your weekly dinners are a wonderful idea!

I used to have a group of friends that got together once a week to have snacks and play games. Once a month, one of us organized a group outing like apple picking, hiking, or flea marketing (is that a verb?). All the activities were fun and inexpensive, guests and friends of friends were always welcome, and there was no pressure to attend. Everyone would get a group email, and you could show up or not as you pleased, a bottle of soda or a bag of chips in hand. I really miss those weekly meetings. Anyway, long live your new tradition! :)

The Singlutionary said...

Lady: yes, I've always wanted to have an urban tribe lifestyle but people tend to deflect to marriage/couples and its hard to keep the tribe going. I guess I do have it in a way though, with my "un"family.

Stevi: I know, I'm a secular mormon! It is a great way to spend time with folks where money isn't a consideration. Money shouldn't be a consideration anyways!

Elsie: I love small simple ways to celebrate life and the people in it. I'd love to have a simple community gathering every week. Maybe this is what Heathen FHE will turn into.