“I’ll take another one!”

“Me, too.”

“I’ve been waiting longer. I can eat two more.”

“I’m making them as fast as I can. I’m glad you like them.”

“We like them every week, Grandma!”

“Somebody pass the syrup.”

These conversations are among my favorite childhood memories. They represent  hundreds of Saturdays. Hundreds!

Every Saturday morning of our childhood, my four cousins, brother, and I had an appointment with our grandmother and her flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, butter, syrup, and orange juice.

These aren’t just the ingredients for good-old-fashioned pancakes. They’re the ingredients for love. Belonging. Connections. Commitment.

My grandmother on my mom’s side had us over for pancakes every Saturday. You read that right. Every Saturday morning that she was home, we were there. Her preference was always that we’d all be there, but when we each became a teenager, she understood some of our activities took place on Saturday mornings. The rest of us showed up, though.

For most of my childhood, our grandparents lived kitty-corner behind us. Dave and I just walked through the hole in the fence our dad created. My cousins walked four blocks to join us or were dropped off by their parents. Our parents weren’t invited to our pancake breakfasts. These were just special grandchildren-grandparent times.

Bonding has always taken effort. It’s never been automatic. My grandparents were very busy. So were we. We chose to prioritize family. It’s always a choice.

Love is a choice, too. So is “like.” Both matter. I’m grateful both were encouraged in my family.

Have you discovered the benefits of consistent fellowship with family? Are you sacrificing so children get to know cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents? I’d love to know what works for you. Find something that works.

Many families separated by distance haven’t allowed that to cause emotional distance. They set up private Facebook groups where stories, prayers, praises, and pictures are freely shared. Relatives who live close can do this, too, of course. Many have discovered the beauty of Facetime and Skyping.

Do you have a family reunion every summer? Cousin camp with grandparents like some of my friends do? Crazy games of miniature golf or bowling? Swimming or hikes at a local park? Card games that go on for hours?

Dave and his family and I enjoy playing cards for hours – telling stories while we do. So do our cousins. If we’re with them and their spouses and children, we always look forward to fun times around a big table. Our grandparents would be pleased. When we were young, after many family dinners, we cleared the table, passed our Pokeno cards, chips, and pennies, and played for hours. It was the perfect game for the youngest grandchild to the oldest great aunt.

What we do with children now they’ll do with their children later. Anybody hungry for pancakes or ready for a game of cards?