These Magic Moments

However small or simple they seem, special rituals give any family a profound sense of connectedness, reinforce common values and create a unique sense of family identity.

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Published in Canadian Living in June 2005

It's a typical Thursday evening at the Harrison home and the kitchen is buzzing with activity as everyone gears up for supper. Mom Cheryl Paterson puts the finishing touches on a Greek salad while dad Chris Harrison brings the Basque bean dish to the table. Eleven-year-old Kate and her younger sister, Jennifer, clamour to light the candles while their little brother, Patrick, zips around flying a homemade kite. As they settle into their chairs, a hush falls over the home. Cheryl and Chris extend their arms to their brood and join hands together, saying, "May all be fed, may all be loved, may all be healed."

While they dig into their dinner, Cheryl initiates a "compliment circle," singling out five-year-old Patrick for praise tonight. She notes how caring he was when they put the family dog in a kennel recently. Chris points out how well Patrick shared his toys with a friend the other day.

Then it's Kate's turn. She's silent for a moment. Earlier she and Patrick were squabbling over who would sit in which chair at the table. Chris leans in, prompting a response in an encouraging tone: "Dig deep now."

Finally, Kate blurts out, "I like the way Patrick never pees his pants anymore."

Then Jennifer says she appreciates the fact her brother has been sleeping in his own bed and not getting into hers in the night." I'm not trying to do that," protests Patrick. "You make me!"

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