Popcorn & Movies

When we had two toddlers and a newborn, we were desperate for something entertaining to break up the monotony of those early days. We decided to begin a new family tradition of huddling up on the couch together for one special night each week to watch a movie. What started as a simple thing we could do for entertainment has evolved into a non-negotiable part of our weekly routine that puts our connection as a family above everything else. I don’t see Family Movie Night changing any time soon. I published this essay over on Kindred Mom and you can read it in its entirety over there. But for now here is a sample.

My husband crouches low to bring the big stainless steel cooking pot and lid up from the lower cabinet and sets it on the stove with a clank. Our children buzz about his feet in great anticipation while he moves through the kitchen, retrieving supplies. With excitement, the boys hustle to the other room and swipe two dining chairs, dragging them back to the kitchen next to the stove. They perch one kid on each side, ready to watch Dad pop popcorn. My husband pours oil into the pot, and the children then dump in the kernels they carefully measured just moments before. With his thumbs crammed into red oven mitts, my husband shakes the pot back and forth over the hot blue flame, pressing the glass lid closed.

Brown simmering kernels cover the bottom of the pot, pressure building up, slowly popping open into white pillowy explosions caught in time; the first bursts of Movie Night celebration. The boys’ rapt attention focused on the contents of the pot under the glass lid, because it is finally Saturday, the night our family stops everything to be together without distraction.  


The rhythm quickens and soon, popcorn fills the pot. The lid is wet with condensation from vapor. Off goes the flame. My husband dumps the popcorn into a large bowl, sprinkles it lightly with salt and heads to the basement, the children skipping along beside, and me behind with smaller bowls and a bag of black licorice I saved for this very night.

I would have never thought a regular family movie night would become a sacred time to me. We just sit together on the couch, watching a screen spew forth entertainment, but this weekly ritual brings us together, in the same room, focused on the same thing, smiling, which is no small task.

Before we had children, watching a movie with my husband was not exactly thrilling. We watched films whenever we wanted to (which was most nights of the week), and the familiarity of such a repetitive act desensitized both of us….click here to read the full essay.

What special family traditions do you have in your family? Were they intentional or did they take you by surprise?

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