As the weather warms up and the sunny days get longer, there is one question on my children’s minds…. “When is Boxcar Day?” My friends know all about this and are asking the same question as my kids! Then there are others that ask, “What is Boxcar Day?”
Many years ago there was a tradition, an event, a personal holiday of sorts borne out of a mother’s need for fellowship. My need for fellowship. I’m sure you can relate to this. When chatting with a friend we realize there is just not enough time to visit and get fully caught up. We part ways declaring, “We should get together sometime.” But that “sometime” never seems to appear on the calendar. If we were to schedule something, we would still have to have someone watch the kids or have fragmented conversation. A few of us came up with a solution that was fun for all.
We live out in the country and have lots of room to roam, though I think this idea could be adapted for city families as well. I volunteered our home to host something we termed “Boxcar Day”. I’m sure you have heard of the book series, “The Boxcar Children.” The premise of the series is that the children in the Alden family have been orphaned. They ended up living in a boxcar and the older children looked after the younger ones until they went to live with their grandfather.
On our “Boxcar Day”, friends come out to our house and our kids become the “Boxcar children”. Mothers, babies and toddlers stay in the air conditioned house and all other children spend their day OUTSIDE. The older children watch out for and play with the younger children. They explore our property, climb trees, build forts and play games. It is strongly suggested that the boys relieve themselves in the great outdoors but the girls are welcome in for the facilities. It’s all part of the adventure!
The first few years that we held Boxcar Days, we had a low dining room window. When the orphan children needed food, they would ask the townspeople (aka moms) if we had any food to spare. So from time to time we would “donate” food to them through the window onto a table we had placed on the outside of the house. We also had a fridge on the back porch that some of the kids foraged from. All of the moms brought shareable snacks. I’m pretty sure any of the granola bars I kept in my car or anyone else had in theirs, were fair game. We have no idea the exact nutritional intake of each individual child on those days but they were completely content!
While the children adventure, the moms are renewed in whatever way blesses them. Some bring scrap-booking supplies or a craft project. Several of the homeschool moms bring their curriculum planning and calendars. Some stay for the whole day and some just an hour or two. The children never want to leave so the moms get to linger and talk to their hearts are full!
Romans 1:11-12 ESV
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
This year, I am combining our Boxcar Days with a CEF 5-day club. Child Evangelism Fellowship will come to my home and do a 90 minute presentation to start out our day and then the children will be released to their adventure. So that means that this year, we will do a full week (from 10am-2pm) of these party days! In other years we have done once a month, three days in a row in the middle of the summer or just once if that is all we could manage.
As we have gone through over a decade of Boxcar Days, there have been many “versions”. The overall concept though has stayed the same, children outside caring for one another in play and mothers in the house encouraging one another for the year ahead of us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing..”