Counters shining from being wiped down, we turn off all the kitchen lights except for the one above the sink and the one above the stove.
The kids head for pj's and teeth brushing and we all gather into the living room for read aloud time. We make sure all the exits are blocked off by pillows and ottoman's so the baby doesn't escape. If it's cold we turn on the fireplace. You probably know me well enough to know that the lamps in the living room are all on and of course, the candle is flaming bright. We all settle into our spots for the night, covered snugly under our favorite blankets.
This week we have been in the Swiss Alps. We've shared lunches of toasted cheese, fresh bread and milk. We've gone to the pastures in the warm summertime afternoons and seen the array of flowers covering the mountains.
"And as they wandered up the mountain path, the sound of the church bells floated upward from the valley, clear and sweet in the evening stillness; the scent of grass and flowers rose from the dewy earth, and the last rosy colors of the setting sun lingered on the far snow-clad peaks until they had entered the Alm-hut together."
And Peter. Peter is one of our favorite new friends. We laugh, even the next day, as we retell our favorite mess he got into the night before we still laugh, maybe even harder the second time.
This is the power of the shared story. Reading together before bed is one of the most valuable things we do together as a family. It has a similar effect of taking a vacation together. The shared experiences and memories all weave together to strengthen the fabric of family.
"At last the sun shone once more, but it sank early behind the glistening mountain peaks, as if it did not take so much joy in this white, frozen world as it did in the blooming summer. Then the moon rose, round and full, turning the snowfields into sheets of bright silver; and in the morning the mountains glittered as if they had been strewn with diamond dust."