When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties in rural southern Indiana, we had a “great room” and did not even know it. According to “Listing Ups,” a real estate resource, the “great room” combines all the parts of the living room and family room into one big room with high ceilings and plenty of light from windows.
For us this room (without the high ceilings) was literally the living room because except for bedrooms and bath, this room was where we lived and were family. You see, this room was also the furnace room. Our coal stove sat in the middle of the room and was attractive to all family members because we could keep warm in that room. This room was Mom’s quilting room and we had to navigate carefully around the quilting frames in January and February because that is when she spent much time making quilts. On Tuesdays this room usually became the ironing room. Lots of conversation occurred while Mom ironed our clothes she had washed on Monday.
This was the changing room for me in the winter because it was the warmest place in the house to change clothes. When more than four or five guests came, this became the formal dining room with card tables moved into the space to accommodate everyone. Mom usually had the visiting preacher for dinner sometime during each gospel meeting and we ate and talked in that space. Family birthdays were celebrated in that room.
It was the entertainment room because the radio was in one corner and I could get close enough to listen to Red Skelton or follow “The Lone Ranger.” Later it became the television room where we watched through a snowy screen “The $64,000 Question” and the “Kennedy Nixon debates.” With the radio or television off, on rare occasions it became the homework room.
Today we have compartmentalized much of the activities of the family at home. We have a separate room for each of the above in many homes. With the busy lives we live, I’m not sure we have nearly enough family time to eat together, laugh together, pray together, and learn about what each member of the family is doing or has done.
David reminds us in Psalm 90 that our time on earth is limited even if we live several decades. Our children live in our homes for a short time and then have families of their own. Our homes need to be places where we can share family time and enjoy helping each other grow and mature physically and spiritually.
Create a schedule where you all regularly spend time around a table eating, playing games, having lively discussions about what you are thinking, talking about school, or working.
It was easier in the fifties and sixties because we did not have the numerous choices families have today. The examples I gave earlier were not so much choices but a way of life for families growing up in America in that era. Let’s be sure to have a room where the whole family looks forward to being present and sharing our lives.