I celebrated Cinco de Mayo by getting lunch at Taco Bell (largely because that’s where my ride to our Toastmasters meeting chose to stop for her own lunch), and buying frozen taquitos and Wild White Nacho Doritos for supper. And I celebrated National Cartoonist Day (without even knowing it) by reading and coloring on newspaper comics with my younger son for our “bedtime blessing.”
Back when his older brother was young, I bought Bedtime Blessings (published by Focus on the Family, and apparently out of print now) to use at bedtime with him. When I first tried it, he was perhaps too young – at any rate, he didn’t seem to find them meaningful, and I went back to reading to him, with him picking the books. Years passed, and by the time I came across my copy of Bedtime Blessings again, he had grown past the recommended age range (3 to 7).
I tried again with my younger son, with initially more success. I forget why we didn’t keep up with it – he lost interest, or the book was mislaid. Or maybe he turned eight and thought he was too old for it – for a while we used another devotional book for elementary age boys. But recently he came across Bedtime Blessings and asked if it was OK to do even if he was “too old” for it (I assured him it was).
One day we looked at a tulip in our garden to remind us of what Jesus taught about the lilies of the field. (I picked the tulip because it said to use a flower; after reading the devotional I pointed out that the violets might fit Jesus’ teaching better and are just as pretty in my opinion.) One evening we played hide-and-seek with special objects that remind us how much we love each other.
I’d been skipping over the page that required black-and-white newspaper comics, because we only get the Sunday paper. But this evening, while out on our evening walk, Kyra helpfully picked up a folded newspaper and brought it home (she brings home a piece of trash just about every time I walk her). The outside section was in pretty sorry shape – even before I let her start tearing at it – but the sports section inside (with comics on page 5B) was just fine.
My son was delighted – both for the opportunity to read some extra comics, and to finally do that page we had been skipping. We read Garfield (his favorite), and he colored one panel (after carefully checking his Garfield books to get Jon’s hair and shirt the right color). I colored Hagar the Horrible. We talked about happy colors (he suggested yellow) and his favorite color (green). Then we thanked God for colors, for comics, and for fun.
My own favorite newspaper comic has always been The Family Circus – since back when my mother used to work at the town newspaper, and in the afternoon when school got out I went to her office to wait until she was done, and amused myself reading the Family Circus books that I found there. I was too young to always understand what was so funny about what the children did, but I liked the gentle, family-oriented humor.
Today, of course, I understand them from a parent’s point of view, even if my own children don’t do all the same things. (My sons have never tracked mud in the house, as they don’t care for getting dirty to begin with. They’ve never colored on walls, either, and of course with only two of them and seven years age difference between them, we don’t have the kind of chaos that is common in the Family Circus.)
Some of my favorite Family Circus comics are the ones where the children try to understand concepts related to God and heaven. Sometimes they misunderstand in amusing ways; often they understand, in their own way, better than adults usually do. But even when the topic isn’t explicitly related to faith, I think Bil Keane does a great job using all the little things of life to show God’s everyday blessings.
I think I just might have to look for a book of Family Circus comics. I think my son and I could have some wonderful “bedtime blessings” together with it.