“Whose turn is next?”
Inevitably, one of my three children asks that question at least once a week. Despite the fact that we have practiced this significant family ritual for the past fourteen years. And their name appears on the tiny chalkboard on our fridge. But the urgency and excitement found in the voice of the one asking indicates that being “next” holds value to them. The irony is that my kids are now 14, 17, and 20.
What is being referred to is our family’s practice of celebrating “Person of the Week.” Each week, we rotate a family member being the point of recognition for simply being a beautiful creation of God and plays a significant role in our home. The celebrated person receives a snack of their choice for the week as well as the reminder that they have value: in our eyes and in the eyes of the Creator.
It began as an adaptation of my oldest son’s first grade teacher’s idea. Who doesn’t like a little recognition that they matter? Besides, it teaches one to look outside themselves. At the time, our family was in the midst of struggling with mental health disorders with our children. Unity lacked big time.
Despite the chaotic winds blowing through our home, we longed for something to hold us together.
It wasn’t easy to implement. Simply sitting at the table together and attempting to get through a meal without destructive overtones became a challenge. Often, I grieved over the reality of pain, anger, and misperceptions that hammered a wedge in the sibling relationships. Chronic illnesses affect the whole family. But my husband and I were determined to intentionally cultivate loving relationships between our kids. We tried a few other options but found no success.
Thus, “Person of the week” was born. Originally, we prayed a blessing over the specified person as well as guessed their favorite things. I also posted a funny picture of them on the fridge. Furthermore, each member was encouraged to write a message of encouragement or give a little gift to them (what kid doesn’t have an extra piece of candy laying around?)
Our practice isn’t about “Everybody gets a Trophy.” It’s about “Everyone is a Trophy”: a testament of God’s handiwork.
As they have grown, the ritual has changed. Pictures on the fridge are not always embraced with humor. Truthfully, my kids look most forward to their treat of choice. The tangible sharing of gifts has dwindled.
But, I like to think that the ways I see them laugh together, encourage one another and even argue with each other are gifts in themselves.
So we will continue our practice. In this world , we need to know that we matter. We. each. have. purpose.
But, I told my oldest, that once he’s married, it’s up to him to start his own tradition.
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