After we’d been married about 3 years, Rod and I were leading our then-church’s youth group, which our kids were in.

We went through the book The Five Love Languages For Teens and discovered that for both Josh and Paige, their primary love language was quality time.

Quality time itself is kind of one of those yuppy, new-agey, Gen-x, guilt trip terms that wasn’t necessary back in the day because we didn’t have the terms multi-task and social media, and the only people with schedules and agendas wore suits and carried briefcases. Being together as a family shouldn’t require a term or a plan, but that’s the world we live in and to which we must adjust.

So we have made quality time a family value. Our ‘new kids’ have no idea, yet, what that is, but they want it, and we give it. It used to be much easier during those almost-2-years when Mommy and Daddy were both work-at-home parents, and we traveled together most of the time. Now it takes a little more coordination on our part, but they don’t see it. We eat breakfast together in the morning. We eat dinner together at night. We spend Fridays with the older siblings. We attend school functions and church several times a week. Daddy walks them to the school door every day and I volunteer at school whenever I can. One of us meets the bus and does homework with them. We like to go see movies, enjoy the beach and pool, go visiting, hit the Sonic happy hour.

Lately, these great blogs about forgoing Christmas gifts have been popping up. Yes, I say great. During the past few years, for reasons philisophical, financial, and spiritual, we have been parring down on Christmas giving. I admit, there is still some guilt involved for me, as I used to be a champion gift-giver and card-sender. But it gets out of hand, we already have more than we need, and the best gift, really/truly/deeply is experiencing life together. This year, we have our son’s wedding 4 days before Christmas, and when our almost-daughter-in-law said we’d all be getting hugs for Christmas, I was actually relieved. Who needs another DVD or gift card? Let’s make dinner together and revisit one of those family favorite films. That’s a treasure!

Last night, Randa sat on the kitchen floor while Rod and I cleaned up dishes (quality time, y’all!) and declared she was going to make her Christmas list. She did so without asking how to spell anything (also a gift to me!) The photo is above. The interpretation is here:

1. Easy Bake oven
2. To go shoe shopping with Mommy
3. To see a movie with my family
4. To get a trip to Hawaii (she said this is for her honeymoon, so we agreed that can be postponed)
5. To go dress shopping with Mommy

6. To sip hot chocolate on Christmas morning
7. I want a new Belle dress.

The idea that most of her desired presents involve time spent with us? Priceless.