For as long as I can remember, I have finished out my day with the exchange of “favorite things.” As the oldest of three sisters covering a five-year age span, we began this tradition when I was in elementary school and while my sisters were very small. My dad’s job often demanded his absence from after school interactions and family dinner.  It was common for him to arrive home just as we were tucking in to read bedtime stories.

Immediately after our last book and before prayers, mom would ask each of us children to recount our favorite thing from that particular day. The best memory of the day was nearly always an otherwise mundane moment that had special meaning to one of us girls. My parents still recall the story of waking near midnight to the whimpers of my preschool-aged sister as she entered their bedroom exclaiming, “We forgot to do favorite things today and I had something I wanted to share!”

Our answers provided a snapshot of the daily events my father may have missed, as well as a bit of insight into our rapidly developing individual personalities. Quite often, an amusing tale would emerge out of this sharing time. Almost always, giggles were exchanged as we recounted our funny experiences. Sometimes we playfully argued over whose event deserved the most laughs, and thus the celebrated status. Even though high school, we looked forward to our nighttime ritual and the opportunity to share a bit of our day with each other.

The tradition was begun nearly thirty years ago, but it remains today. Now a mother myself, my most anticipated part of the day is “favorite things.” I look forward to the revelation of the most impressive event in the mind of my six-year-old son. I set aside the task list and let the phone go to voicemail so my young son has my undivided attention. It’s during this time that I am so rewarded with his “favorite thing” memory of the day. Sharing snow cones, making a card with glitter, or finding caterpillars in the backyard are typical happenings that become notable moments.  Nearly always I walk away from our “favorite things” time learning something new about my son’s personality or his budding world-view.

This daily family practice often functions as the vehicle for my own personal refocus. Recently when my son opted to name the backyard picnic as his top memory rather than the purchase of a new toy the same day, I was reminded that to him, more money does not equate to a better quality of life. Rather, investing a few minutes of inconvenience by packing up lunch and relocating amidst the mosquitoes and hot sun was the currency required for creating that day’s treasured moment.