I would like to share a recently started tradition in our family. It’s called Lights Out Family Day. It was an idea I had awhile back but didn’t follow through on. My loving wife gave it to me as a Christmas present and I’m very glad she did. The concept goes like this. Once a month, I wake up in the morning on a Sunday and turn off all of the electric circuits in the basement except those running the fridge and freezer (and furnace in the winter). As a family, we intentionally spend the day together in the house. No electronic devices (that can be run on batteries) are permitted.
It’s always a little hard. We forget how dependent on electricity we have become. But what I also notice is that it almost “forces” us to be together. With no radio or computer or remote control toy to distract us from each other we quickly find the only way to be entertained is by talking to each other or playing with each other. We read books out loud, play board games, play in the back yard, or just talk.
A couple years ago there was a huge wind storm that came through the area and knocked out all of the power to 10’s of thousands of homes. Many were without power for a week. I remember that during that time there were countless stories of people who saw their neighbors for the first time because without AC it was more comfortable to sit outside on the porch. Neighbors were having cook-outs together because one would have a large grill and others had food going bad in the fridge or freezer that needed to be cooked. I heard the stories of how people in my neighborhood used to sit on the porch and talk to each other. I think electric conveniences have taken away some of our focus on each other.
So, we have Lights Out Family Day where there is little choice but to focus on each other. It’s only once a month, but I always look forward to it, even though everyone isn’t always real happy about it. I think one of the things I really enjoy is turning on our oil lamps and putting up some candles for light and having dinner and playing board games as it gets dark. Of course, in the summer it won’t be as big of a deal. But in the winter time we spend a good chunk of time in mostly dark. I think it’s a good reminder of how work days used to work. You got up with the sun and went to bed when it was dark because you didn’t have much choice. You couldn’t really work in the dark well and you had to make as much use of the natural light as you could.
This is a family tradition that I hope will last for a long time.