The Magic of Ordinary Days: Making Memories with Your Children

This post is one of my all-time favorites from the archives, about making memories with your children. It is even more poignant to me now that all of the children in the story are grown and gone. Since there are thousands more readers of the blog than when it was written, I wanted to share it for today's audience.

Late afternoon shadows crept across the barren grass in the yard. Two teen boys were just returning from their paper routes in the neighborhood, cheeks red from the chilly wind. Three little girls had finished the bath that was an excuse to play with dolls in the water and were dressed in their princess pajamas, wet hair dripping. The supper hour had come.

The menu was planned and it was a favorite quick meal—tomato soup, cheese and crackers. There was a strong temptation to direct one of the boys to heat it up and set it on the table so I could finish my work in the den.

But suddenly my heart was pricked by the urge to create a memory, not just throw a meal on the table. My husband had been gone for many days and we were feeling his absence. I had been “getting by” on meals eaten in shifts between errands, activities and appointments.

The first order of business was a cloth on the table. Not only did it add warmth and color to the table, it cut down on the clank and rattle of dishes and silverware. The centerpiece was a heart-shaped ceramic bowl surrounded by three red leftover Christmas votives. The little candles were lit, and they cast a cheery red glow. Then the magic began to happen.

A little brown-haired girl with a sprinkle of freckles across her nose entered the kitchen and exclaimed “Ohhhh, that’s pretty!” Her green eyes widened as she took in the scene. She offered to set the table and busily began to brush crumbs off the chairs. While I stirred the soup on the stove, her sisters joined her and set to work, laying out food and gazing at the candles. We got out the little apple glasses and pitcher that are seldom used, to match the red theme on the table.

Soon the boys came in from the cold and helped to stir the soup and rinse the glasses. Everyone began talking about when we first moved here seven years ago, laughing about what they thought of the move at their young age.

We gathered at our places, and since some family members were gone, the little children got the privilege of sitting in chairs instead of the bench. The chatter and reminiscing continued through a lovely, simple meal of tomato soup.

How close I came to missing that special meal!

We were a minute away from a quick bowl of soup on a bare, cold table with a package of crackers as a centerpiece. You’ll notice that the menu didn’t change or get more elaborate. The only unusual thing about the food was that we had chocolate milk instead of the usual water.

The decision to go the extra mile, simple though it was, made all the difference.

Ordinary days are so, well, ordinary. We are busy, to be sure, and we cut corners and look for shortcuts. I’m all for ways to make home management easier and more efficient.

The effort required for a big result in making memories with your children is usually small, yet we put it off or never do it.

We keep meaning to, then the days and the months and the years pass, and we never got around to it. We are left with regrets and a wiser perspective.

Making Memories With Your Children at Meals

Children of all ages enjoy being involved in setting a lovely table. Everything from Lego creations to scenes made with sticks and flowers can brighten the center. Candles of all shapes, sizes and colors cast a warm glow and create a feeling of “just for me?” special atmosphere.

A collection of vintage tablecloths from the thrift store, bargain cloths from the clearance aisle and even pretty sheets add variety.

Life is too short to save the special china and crystal for holidays. Use it on a regular basis for the most important people in your life.

The only life you can live is today, ordinary though it may be. Go the extra mile and do the little things that bring magic to ordinary days, for this is what love and life are made of.

p.s. The title of this post also happens to be the title of one of my favorite Hallmark movies


  1. Charlotte Siems says:

    I’m glad you had a lovely time–your son will always remember the day!

  2. Charlotte Siems says:

    I know! And we think we need to wait until we can plan a Big Deal. Childhood memories are made of the ordinary days.

  3. Charlotte Siems says:

    Thanks, Kim! I need to re-read it every once in a while, too!

  4. Charlotte Siems says:

    I am so honored to be a priority in your inbox! And so glad to encourage you!

  5. Charlotte Siems says:

    Melinda, you are so right–there ARE things you CAN do, and often those things mean more because they don’t stress us out! Blessings!

  6. Charlotte Siems says:

    So true–we keep “waiting” for more time to do something big, when the days are slipping by and we could have done something simple!

  7. Janet Duff says:

    Please accept my sympathies for your and your family’s loss. Thank you for this. I really needed it. I let so many days slip by and stay ordinary. I am glad that you are taking this time to cherish your family that is there to love and support you.

  8. My sympathies to you and your family during this hard time. I am so happy for you that you can all be together!
    This post is probably my favorite! (There are so many great ones though, that it is hard to choose!) I have it printed off, but hadn’t read it in awhile. Thanks!
    And, is it any wonder so many people love to follow your blog…here you are thinking of us and continuing to encourage others while you are in the midst of a difficult time! That speaks volumes about you and is a great example of serving others even when it would be easy to make excuses and stay centered on ourselves. Thank you.

  9. Cat Miller says:

    Charlotte, deep blessings to you and your family at this difficult time. I lost my own dear Mom a short time ago (following the loss of my wonderful Dad), and it was not an “ordinary time.” Although there were many sad feelings, the strongest feeling I am left with is a deep love for them, and an uplifted happiness for the gift of these lovely people, my parents. I’m sure you feel this, and pray you will hold onto that experience while grieving your loss.
    Thank you for all you do, and for sharing with us! Take your time getting back-in-the-saddle!!

  10. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Take your time for your heart to heal. My mother passed away when I was a newlywed, about 35 years ago. Sometimes I still ache in my heart, and even weep. It’s okay to miss your mom, and to grieve. May the Lord bless you and your family, and comfort you. Thank you for the sweet reminder to cherish ordinary days with our families. It is way too easy to take them for granted, and the days slip by so quickly. Bless you for helping us to regain perspective, and to be grateful people for the gift of family.

  11. My deepest sympathies to you and your loved ones. Thank you for your gentle and loving spirit. I know your mom was so proud of you. I pray that my daughters will grow into gracious and loving women who encourage all those around them. You inspire me and I know that what I glean from your writings will trickle down to my children. God bless you.

  12. Ang Friesen says:

    My condolences for your loss. I pray that you will be able to grieve in a healthy manner, for as long as you need it.
    Thank you very much for the reminder post – a great reminder to cherish the everyday.

  13. Susan Smith says:


    My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family in the loss of your mother. My mother passed away the end of October last year, and there are times when I miss her so and the tears will begin to flow. It is getting a little easier, though, with each passing day. Please be gentle with yourself and take all the time that you need to grieve. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers.

    In Christ,


  14. Marykaye Lebeau says:

    Charlotte, My deepest sympathy for you and your family at this time of loss. As I lost my mother last August, I can say it’s a time of sadness and grief, but also of remembrances of those lovely times we’ve spent with our mothers. It takes time to heal. Be kind to yourself.
    “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  15. Judith Hilbun says:

    I’m so sorry. It is never easy to let a loved on go. Please know that my prayers are with you and that God is still on the throne. He will give you everything you need to help and comfort you during this sad time. Thank you for all you do.

  16. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. May the Lord give you and your family strength and comfort at this time. You are in my prayers.

    Much love and Blessings

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