“Drawing Together,” New Era, Jan. 1998, 20
Do you ever feel like it’s impossible to be friends with your little brother because he’s too much younger than you? Do you ever want to scream because your little sister is hogging the bathroom yet again? Don’t despair—no family is perfect, and a little friction now and then is probably inevitable. However, some families are pros at getting along. Here, they share their secrets for a happy family:
The Rainock home stands on an old Civil War battlefield in Mechanicsville, Virginia. But the spirit in their home and their relationships with each other are far from the chaos and anger of such a time. Peace reigns here, where the five teenagers in the family are best friends. When it comes to living and sharing the gospel, they make a great team.
No matter where they go, the Rainocks usually go together. When Gibbs, 18, painted a mural for the local elementary school as part of his Eagle Scout project, the whole family was there to support him. His brother and sisters, Lenore, Orin, Lorel, and Cora all gave a helping hand.
One day at school a bomb threat was issued, forcing students to evacuate the building. When 19-year-old Cora went outside, the first thing she did was look for her sister Lenore, 16. “That day was really cool,” Cora says, “because I got to talk to Lenore. We just walked around until we had to go inside. It’s a wonderful feeling, being like that with your sister.”
Another day Lorel, 12, accompanied Lenore and Cora on an all-day shopping trip. “We went to a basketball game, then hung out at the mall and shopped for Cora’s prom dress,” Lorel beams. “It was so much fun.”
Sharing the gospel
But for the Rainocks, being together means more than just “hanging out.” It means sharing and living the gospel together.
“Without the gospel, we wouldn’t have family home evenings,” Lenore says. “Without the gospel we wouldn’t learn about how important families are. We wouldn’t read the scriptures every morning.”
There’s no doubt that the Rainocks know how to make a difference in other people’s lives. “My friends are always asking about Mormons,” 14-year-old Orin says. So he tells them all he knows about the Church, hoping that someone will want to know more.
This is how their cousin, Mark Mailhot, learned about the gospel. That, and keeping Lenore, Cora, Gibbs, and Orin up until late at night discussing religion. When he asked to be baptized, it was one of the most memorable days in Gibbs’s life. With all the vigor of a soon-to-be missionary, Gibbs says, “I was able to baptize him.”
The Rainocks’ family home evenings are centered around improving relationships and bringing more love into the home. Sometimes activities will involve sitting in a circle and sketching each other. Other times they involve sharing a talent—everyone in the family is an artist—or helping with a project.
Working together not only improves the quality of the work they’re doing, but helps strengthen their already strong bonds. Because time together is so worthwhile, instead of struggling to stay together, this family wants to be together.
Fifteen-year-old Daniel Hunt has a hard time hanging on to a hairbrush. A few years ago when his older brother Lamar went on a mission to Mexico, Lamar “borrowed” Daniel’s new brush—for two years. When he returned, Daniel happened to have a new brush again. This time Lamar “borrowed” it when he went away to college.
“Now it’s turned into a joke,” says Daniel. “When Lamar comes home he’ll say, ‘Oh look! Daniel got me a new brush.’ It’s pretty funny. Lamar can always make me laugh.”
In some houses, a missing brush could be cause for an upset rivaling a world war. In other homes, like the Hunts’, it’s simply added to a long list of inside jokes. What makes the difference? The Hunts have a secret weapon against contention. They have learned that a good sense of humor can turn even the most tense moments into playful ones.
Friends and family
Because the Hunts, who now live in Pensacola, Florida, have lived in several different states (due to their dad’s employment), they’ve learned to rely on each other for support in new situations. Even in a new school where they don’t know anyone, Lamar, Maric, J. T., LeAnn, Randa, and Daniel know they can count on their siblings to help make the transition easier—using good-natured joking to make an unfamiliar place seem more like home.
Eighteen-year-old LeAnn and 16-year-old Randa have shared a room practically their whole lives. All that time together at home has made them virtually inseparable other places.
“We have a lot of night-time talks,” says Randa. “Sometimes we keep my parents awake, laughing, because they can hear us through the walls. We think alike from being around each other all the time. A lot of people at school think we’re twins.”
Just like any friends, the Hunts like to have fun together. Softball, golf, swimming, and going to movies together are some of their favorites. Since Lamar and Maric now live away from home, their visits are also high on everybody’s list. And just like all the other things the Hunts do together, there are always plenty of funny stories to tell. Like the time their Grandma swung the softball bat so hard she fell over, or the time Randa stood up at the dinner table and, out of the clear blue, delivered a hilarious line from a movie.
Often, there are other friends from school or the neighborhood with the Hunts at their various activities. Many of them are surprised at how well they all seem to like each other and how eager they are to get along. Some outsiders are actually shocked at what a blast it is to be around the Hunts. But for J. T., LeAnn, Randa, and Daniel, it’s just business as usual.
“After all,” says Daniel. “Our family can be forever. Remembering that helps us get along.”
The Romans family, from Richmond, Virginia, say that one reason they’re close is that they have a tradition for everything. Here’s a peek at a few of them:
Every Saturday morning, Clayton and Lindsay Romans meet their parents at the breakfast table for a huge helping of sourdough pancakes. They’ve been doing this for as long as they can remember. It’s easy and lots of fun. When Saturday morning rolls around, they let everyone help prepare the breakfast and set the table.
At Christmastime, the Romans carry out dozens of traditions. But one of them can really be done any time of the year. On Christmas day, the whole family goes to the movies together—they’ve done so for years. But two years ago, Clayton’s sister Chelsea couldn’t make it home for Christmas. “I mailed her the money so she could go to a movie in Salt Lake. So it would be like she was with us,” says 16-year-old Clayton.
Does your family have a special song or saying or joke? The Romans family does. “Every week when we have family home evening, we always sing ‘Down by the Station,’” 12-year-old Lindsay says. “It’s a song my dad taught us, and we loved it so much that we picked it every week. Now it’s turned into a tradition.”
Saying I’m sorry
Another ongoing tradition at Clayton and Lindsay’s house is getting along with each other. “One of the worst things we could do when we were little was say ‘I hate you,’” Clayton says. And Lindsay reminds him of the tradition of making apologies. “If we’d get mad at each other, we’d have to hug each other. We always apologize with a hug and a kiss,” she says.
So there you have it. The next time you’re ready to yell or pout, maybe all you really need is to view your sister as your friend. A good sense of humor can often make the difference between scolding your little brother for chewing on his crayons or running to get your camera to take a picture of his rainbow-colored smile. And perhaps you really can talk to your parents about what’s on your mind if you make a tradition out of spending time together.
The path to having love at home starts with a strong gospel foundation and can end in a thousand different locations, depending on your situation. But no matter where you wind up, you’re sure to find beauty all around when there’s love at home.