By Bo Sanchez
Guy 1: Cecilia is so beautiful.
Guy 2: Oh yes. She looks like Demi Moore in Ghost. (Note: This conversation happened centuries ago.)
Guy 1: If given a chance, would you want to marry her?
Guy 2: Uh… no, not really.
Guy 1: Why not?
Guy 2: How should I put it? Cecilia’s uh…not a happy person.
Guy 1: You noticed that too?
Guy 2: She’s gloomy. She’s a negative person. She may be beautiful, but I don’t want to live with a negative person for the rest of my life.
Guy 1: So unlike Stella.
Guy 2: Now there’s a cheerful girl. I really like her. So kind. So friendly. Always has a lovely smile.
Guy 1: She’s not as beautiful as Demi Moore.
Guy 2: But she’s the kind of woman I’ll marry.
Guy 1: What? You have a crush on her too?
Guy 2: Hey, fall in line bro.
This conversation actually happened some twenty years ago between two of my single friends. We were all single then. And believe me, Stella was like a guy magnet. Five of my friends had a crush on her. Except for me, of course. I was immune to crushes. Because I looked at all females the way I looked at common furniture. Because my heart was focused on God alone. (And my nose is getting longer right this minute…)
Here’s a lesson for single people: I’ve learned that guys may lust after physical beauty, but when it comes to marriage, they’ll look deeper. One of the most important things they’ll look for is a happy woman. Why? Because a guy knows that one of his roles is to make his wife happy. If he marries a happy woman, his job will be so much easier. Because at the end of the day, we all want happiness.
Are Your Homes Happy?
After one of my talks, an anxious mother approached me and asked, “Bo, can you help me? I have a problem with my 18-year-old daughter. She’s like a bed-spacer in our house. She goes home only to sleep. She’s always with her friends…” I had little time to talk to her, so I took my best shot. I asked her, “Is there happiness at home?”
Here’s my belief. I believe kids will love to go home if there’s love in the home. Have you heard that great old song from 1964? (For your information, I didn’t hear the original version. I heard this song in a revival in American Idol.) “A chair is still a chair even when there’s no one sitting there. But a chair is not a house, and a house is not a home, when there’s no one there, to hold you tight and no one there, that you can kiss good night…”
Friend, is there happiness in your home? I’ve noticed that the happiest relationships have a rhythm of celebration. They throw parties. I don’t mean a party with balloons and clowns (though that’ll be great, too), but putting a party spirit in your relationship.
I’ve got four fantastic suggestions.
- Make the Family Meal a Party
I know of a man who has 11 children. When he goes home from work, he does a very important ritual before entering his front door. He mentally unloads all his problems at the front porch – because his kids need a happy Dad. When he enters the door, he shouts, “Hi kids!” And 11 kids rush to him to give him a hug. He then wrestles them on the floor and they play together. And when mealtime comes, he makes everyone laugh. He inspires everyone with his stories. Alas, the typical family meal isn’t like this.
Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill
The typical family meal is where parents hold court and pass judgments and vent anger. Let me give you an example. The father turns to his eldest son, Jack, and asks, “Pass the rice. By the way, how was your exam this morning?” He doesn’t allow the boy to answer. He answers for him, “I won’t be surprised if you got a zero, because I don’t see you studying. The good news is that we can save money because we can sell your schoolbooks next year as brand new!”
He then turns to his daughter, Jill, (You know, Jack and Jill…) “Pass the gravy. By the way, where were you last night? With your ugly boyfriend again? Can you tell me what planet he comes from? I can accept earrings in the ear. But why does he have earrings on his nose? Is he a cow?”
He then turns to his youngest daughter, Hill. (You know, Jack and Jill went up the hill…) “Pass the salt. And you, were you born with a telephone in your hand? You already were with your obnoxious friends in school, why do you have to spend three more hours talking with them on the phone?”
And finally, it’s the youngest son’s turn, Pail. (Okay, they really like this Nursery Rhyme.) “Pass the cake. And you, what did you do today aside from wasting your time playing those crappy video games! And are you deaf? Your music is either very loud or extremely loud. Go to the doctor and have your ears checked!”
No wonder the family meal is an endangered species. Parents, please. Make your meals happy!
Here’s a rule you should write on stone: Ban all sermons when you’re around the table. Instead, feed your children with dishes of laughter, platefuls of inspiration, and trays of encouragement. Make every family meal a joyful occasion.
- Hold a Family Night Each Week
My kids love Family Night. If they had it their way, it’ll be done every night. Sometimes, we watch a movie at home, with a barrel of popcorn. (According to my son Benedict, a movie without popcorn is a horrific crime.) Sometimes, we play games together – Monopoly, Charades, Pictionary, and Trivia. Sometimes, we play video games together. Obviously, the kids always win and the parents lose. But that’s okay. Instead of banning video games from our kids, we enter into their digital worlds. Doing so enables us to guide them against violent games. Sometimes, we go to a book store, and sometimes, we eat ice cream. I believe the weekly Family Night is a mini-party that you should never miss. Believe me, when you’re old and grey (or old and bald), you’ll look back at these times and thank God you had them!
- Weekly Dates with Each Family Member
I date my wife each week. I consider that a mini-party too. Years ago, we had very little money. So we had dates in our garage. Sometimes, we took a quiet walk in our neighborhood. One day, I thought of something crazy. We ate at home, then dressed up really well, and went to a five-star hotel. We entered the hotel like we were millionaires. No one knew we had very little money in our pockets. And confidently, I ordered a glass of Coke. And for two solid hours, we enjoyed the violin music and beautiful ambiance — all the while sipping our Coke very slowly.
I date my kids each week, too. Those are mini-parties. Sometimes, it’s just donuts. Other times, we walk around a mall. Other times, we play a game together. The key is to make it fun. I also date my mother every other week. This is such a simple thing, but it means the world to her.
I have regular dates with my friends, too. Our spiritual community, Light of Jesus, is organized around small groups called Caring Groups that meet weekly. Amazingly, I have four Caring Groups, so my weeks are busy having fun times with my many friends.
- Annual Family Celebrations
Create your own Family’s “Liturgical Calendar.” Sit down and block off the most important dates of the year. For example, plan everyone’s birthdays. Many times, it’s spontaneous. “Oh, it’s your birthday today? Let’s have dinner…” So why not plan a bit more? Go camping in the backyard, or visit an orphanage, or invite your child’s friends for a sleepover, or go out and have a mini-vacation together.
Mark off also your wedding anniversary, Valentines, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents’ Day. One Valentine’s Day, I did something I cherish to this day. I set up two chairs and a little wooden table in our backyard. I scattered candles all over the grass, dressed in a coat and tie, and brought out my CD player to play Kenny G romantic music. I then ordered pizza. Finally, I got my guitar and sang an original song I wrote for my wife that day…
Ikaw ang awit ng buhay, Ang tinig ng langit
Ikaw ang himig at kulay, Ng pusong nagmamahal sa iyo
Biyayang galing sa taas, Anghel sa lupa’y naglalakad
Ikaw ang awit ng puso ko…
That happened a long time ago, but I still remember my wife’s tears that special night.
Other important days: First day in school. Last day in school. Graduation. First job of the new graduate. It could be Jimbo, the pet dog, giving birth to four puppies. Hey, if there’s a reason to celebrate, throw a party!
I wrote everything about harmony and joy in the family in my new book, How To Have a Happy Family. Here are some more free tips…
3 Ingredients for Throwing Parties
Ingredient #1: GRATITUDE
Someone might say, “But Bo, I’m a melancholic person. I’m not like you. I’m the loner and shy type. I really don’t like these party-spirit thing.”
Excuse me, but I’m melancholic too. Every psychological test I’ve taken confirms without a shadow of a doubt that I’m melancholic. But here’s the truth: Celebrating your relationships doesn’t depend on having a bubbly or cheerful personality. It depends on your depth of gratitude. You throw a party because you’re grateful to the person for being there in your life. If you believe that the people in your life are your greatest gifts from God, then you throw parties often to thank them. Even if we know it’s a lot of hard work.
Ingredient #2: HARD WORK
Have you ever prepared for a birthday party before? It’s always hard work. But who said love isn’t hard work? As I said before, love is about dirty hands, not just beating hearts.
Ingredient #3: CREATIVITY
Throwing parties requires some creativity. Do you want to be more creative? Copy. Get inspiration from others. It’s the secret of the greatest artists in the world: Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo, Picasso, Rembrandt, Bo Sanchez…
You don’t know how to express your love in a playful way? Ask others what they do. Do some research. Through the years, I’ve given many cards to my wife. Let me share one with you today. You’ll notice that I’m not very original. I stole all the idea from various sources. I basically got the text from an email I received. Probably Spam. Not much originality. But my wife loved it so much, it’s still on her bedside table after all these years.
“My Dearest Valentine,
You are the… apple of my eye, mango of my pie, palaman of my tinapay, keso of my monay, teeth of my suklay, fingers on my kamay, blood in my atay, sala of my bahay, foundation of my tulay, seeds of my palay, best clothes in my ukay-ukay, calcium in my kalansay, calamansi on my siomai, knot on my tie, toyo on my kuchay, vitamins in my gulay, stars of my sky, sand of my Boracay, beauty of my Brunei, highlands of my Tagaytay, mole on my Ate Guy, baba of my Ai-Ai, spinach of my Popeye, sizzle when I fry, wind when I paypay, tungkod when I’m pilay, feeling when I’m high, shoulder when I cry, wings when I fly, prize when I vie, cure to my “ARAY!”, my honey even after I die… From your one and only, HAPPY VALENTAY!”
Let me end with the story of the prodigal son.
When the “bad” son came home, his father threw a party. The son wanted to beg for forgiveness, but the father wasn’t even listening. Instead, he said, “Hurry! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast!”
God loves parties. And God loves to throw a party to people who don’t deserve a party. If you’re reading this, thinking of your sins, wondering if God still loves you, let me tell you: God is throwing a party of love for you right now. He loves you more than you can imagine. Receive His love today. And learn to throw more parties in your life. Your relationships need them badly.