Growing up, I can remember that at least occasionally our weekly Family Home Evening was regarded as a burden by some of the 12 children in our family.
There were various reasons for that, including the dynamics of teaching/entertaining an audience of children with a wide range of ages. Sometimes the issue was a function of the subject matter of the lessons. Unfortunately, an important factor was sometimes the less-than cooperative/energetic/willing attitude of some older siblings towards activities that presented an impediment to maximum time spent playing sports, or reading.
Sorry mom, sorry dad.
Now, a couple of decades later, I pursue my path towards repentance by pouring inordinate amounts of energy into our large, triennial, family reunions. And, in my own family, I have a goal that until they leave home, our 3 children will enjoy and look forward to our FHE.
Our children are now 13, 10, and 7, and so far, so good, I’m happy to report.
We have moved to Boston for a year, and in addition to the typical New England chores we’ve assigned ourselves as a family (get to know Capes Ann and Cod, visit Revolutionary War and abolition movement sites, find the best places to fish blues and stripers, skate frozen ponds and rivers, etc.), we’ve been visiting New England sites that were important to early Mormonism. Each of those, of course, lends itself to some interesting subject matter for FHE lessons/discussions/projects.
In addition to the well-known Mormon historical sites in Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate NY, there are places in the Boston area, including Boston, Lowell, New Bedford, and Salem.
In the 4 months we’ve been here, some of our FHE Mormon history moments or discussions have dealt with Walker Lewis (early black church elder from Boston and Lowell), Joseph Smith’s multiple visits to Salem, the church trial of John Hardy (early Boston church leader), Mormon abolitionists (including Walker), and the impact of the whaling and cotton mill industries on Mormon conversion patterns.
For our next FHE, I’ve been assigned to present a Mormon history moment and
lead a short ice-skating practice session (we’ll practice developing a power stroke (lengthening our stride) in sock feet on our wood floor).
For the former, and with somewhat of a stretch, we’ll recount the Boston version of the story of Mother Goose. That is, Mary Goose (died 1690) was buried at Boston’s small Granary Burying Ground (with about 3,000 others). Not-so-solid legend has it that she is the “Mother Goose” from the children’s fables. We’ll read and sing some of the Mother Goose stories and enjoy the graphic I’ve posted with this blog (thanks Connell), which is the title page from the 1833 edition of Mother Goose’s melodies, published in Boston and New York, and which satirizes the preface to the then-recently published Book of Mormon. Click on the thumbnail, or read the full title below, and part of the satire will be obvious “every [fable] recently found in the same stone box which holds the golden plates of the Book of Mormon.”
– Stirling Adams
1. Mother Goose’s melodies : the only pure edition ; containing all that have ever come to light of her memorable writings, together with all those which have been discovered among the mss. of Herculaneum, likewise every one recently found in the same stone box which holds the golden plates of the Book of Mormon. The whole compared, revised, and sanctioned, by one of the annotators of the Goose family, C.S. Francis and Company (Munroe and Francis), Boston, NY, 1833.
2. Dean Jesse, “A Prophet’s Goodly Grandparents,” review of Richard Lloyd Anderson’s Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 7:2, Summer, 1972
3. Connell O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban and Elder Q. Walker Lewis: “An Example for His More Whiter Brethren to Follow“.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 26 (2006): 48-100.
4. Val Rust, Mormonism and the Radical Religious Movement in Early Colonial New England, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 33:1, Spring 2000
5. Richard Bushman,Rough Stone Rolling, Alfred A. Knopf, NYC, 2005.