As you have probably picked up by now, I’m big on creating family traditions and rituals. Maybe the most consistent and longest-lasting tradition in our repertoire was movie night.
If we didn’t start movie night the first weekend the boys were here, we certainly did so soon after. In its early version, movie night looked like this: During the week, I would order a movie and a cartoon from Netflix (the kind that got delivered on DVD, via snail mail. Anyone remember that?). On Saturday night—and I mean, faithfully, every Saturday night—we would order a pepperoni pizza for delivery and then sit and watch our cartoon and movies with our pizza.
The only variations I think we made at this stage were that we sometimes changed which pizza place we called, and sometimes we threw in a dessert. (For the record, we’re not a big dessert family, which is why our dentist loves us.)
Mark at one point declared movie night his favorite thing about us being a family.
Over the years, new variations came along: At some point we started rotating the movie and cartoon selection, so that each of us took turns making that week’s picks. At an even later point—probably when I realized that the kids were humoring me by sitting through my PG selections—I dropped out of the rotation, and the kids took turns making picks on alternate weeks.
The menu varied up as well. We first added “make your own” tacos on alternating weeks with the pizza—my least favorite, because it involved the most prep and cooking—and later added a third option called “freezer food,” which basically involved mini pizzas, mini hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, pierogi—all that healthy stuff. Which I loved, because I could basically just spill everything out onto a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. Because I am lazy, I’m pretty sure we alternated pizza – tacos – pizza – freezer food – pizza etc., so that I could double up on the nights where my kitchen jobs involved pulling out paper plates and paying the delivery guy.
As you might imagine, we watched a lot—a LOT—of dumb kid movies over the years. I love Jackie Chan, but boy, has he made some terrible movies. Because my kids are cool, we also watched a whole bunch of musicals mentioned elsewhere, and The Queen, also mentioned elsewhere, and a fair share of stuff that was either funny or charming or quirky or some combination of the above.
Unfortunately, my kids decided they needed to grow up right around the time I decided single dad should have a social life. So movie nights became pretty rare occasions. Somehow it always seemed to be Mark’s pick, and aside from the occasional Pitch Perfect, we spent most of the time watching things blow up. Cartoons went by the wayside a while back, because after exposing/inflicting so many of my childhood Saturday morning favorites on them—HR Puf’n’Stuf, Josie and the Pussycats, the Bugaloos—about the only thing we could agree on was Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo loses some of its appeal when you remember who the ghost is going to be before the opening song is over.
We probably stopped movie nights around the time Netflix stopped delivering DVDs by mail. Occasionally I’ll dig up something (via streaming now, of course) to watch for old times’ sake. But somehow it’s not the same when I’m not wiping up goopy cheese off the floor after the closing credits.
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