Posted by: ritagone | December 27, 2017

What an “Experience”!!

It was Dana’s idea.

A family drawing, the nine of us (Michael, me, the five Rouses, and Matt and his daughter Hannah) pulling names out of a bowl: each

person picked a name, and you had to provide an “experience” of their choosing for and with that person.  Something they would like to do, something fun, interesting, challenging, whatever they liked.  It could be a few hours or an entire day.

But it meant you focused your attention and a certain previously defined sum of money on him or her for the allotted time it would take to do whatever he/she wanted to do.

But then the flip side of the coin meant that someone was doing the exact same thing for you: catering to your whim, doing what you wanted to do, crafting an event to meet your desires.

And so it came to pass that – within the family – there was someone you were doing something for, and someone was doing something for you. For lack of a better term, we came to call it the “experience.”  The name stuck.  And out of that pretty basic game plan some great experiences came to be: miniature golfing, simulated sky diving (yes, there is such a place in Southern California, near Universal City, where the air blows you up so that you feel you have jumped out of a plane when you haven’t), Universal City rides, roller skating, and my personal favorite, as noted by the photograph in this blog:

painting a piece of ceramic of your choice while you sit and chat, then go to a lunch that includes the best soft serve ice cream in town.

That’s how I came to spend several hours yesterday with my oldest granddaughter Meg, whose name I had drawn, at Color Me Mine in Thousand Oaks, where we each picked a piece of ceramic for the other and then sat and painted it.  I’m getting (once it’s fired) a mug, and Meg’s getting a small house which has a hole in the front where her fish Draco can (hopefully) go for rest and relaxation. (Some desires are just plain fanciful.)  After we finished our artwork, we went to Freddy’s, a local joint that serves hamburgers, chicken dishes and hot dogs, with the best side of fries ever, and then finished off with soft serve ice cream that is delicious.  We had a great time.  In fact, we decided that we didn’t need an “experience” event to get together – just the two of us – and spend time with one another.  And that’s a pretty fantastic end result!

This Saturday the other half of my “experience” is going to a matinee of “Something Rotten,” playing at the Ahmanson Theater in the Music Center complex in downtown Los Angeles with my son-in-law Ed.  He drew my name.  We’ll eat dinner afterwards at one of the many wonderful restaurants surrounding that theater complex.  I’m trying to maintain a low profile about this, because I don’t want the other family members to be jealous, but I have to say that this is probably the best “experience” event ever!!!  Getting to spend time with my favorite son-in-law is always a treat, seeing a Broadway show even off Broadway is special, so I am so looking forward to Saturday afternoon!

Yes, we are going to do this again next year.  It has been suggested that we not tie it in to Christmas, that we instead do it some other time of the year.  But other than that, it was a roaring success.  Everyone in the family knows how blessed we all are to actually want to spend time with sisters, uncles and parents and grandkids and such.  That’s not always the case, and we are well aware of it.

This Christmas, as usual, the British TV show “Call the Midwife” aired its Christmas special, and Michael and I watched it the next day, having recorded it on Christmas night.  I always have a box of tissues nearby, because it is guaranteed to make me cry, and this year was no exception.  But there was one scene and one bit of dialogue that really got to me this year.  The young vicar who is handsome and kind and who every woman watching has a crush on, I suspect, is talking to one of the older women, and they are discussing how families sadly get torn apart in life, because that’s a theme that runs through this show all the time, and this year was no exception. How does this happen? she asks him, and he answers:

“Ties fray so quickly,

And once they fray, they snap.

People just stop belonging.”

People just stop belonging.

We must fight to prevent that from happening in our relationships, in our families.  Our “experience” events within my own family this year have reaffirmed how much we need to keep belonging and make sure we do what needs to be done to keep that happening with one another.

May 2018 be a year in which you keep belonging to those you love and who love you.  Or may you find those to belong to in 2018 and start new relationships.  In either case, it’s truly all about the people in your life and how you keep from fraying and snapping apart.

Don’t stop belonging.

Happy New Year!!!


  1. This is wonderful, Rita!! I was telling DeeDee what you all were doing….
    We may be contacting you (or Dana) for further coaching!!

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