FireThey call it “Bush TV.”

In remote parts of Africa, far from modern civilization, people still gather around a roaring fire before and after dinner. They sit and gaze into the flames, conversation rising and falling with the fingers of fire. Topics range over the day’s events, plans for tomorrow, the sounds of lions, how many kinds of flies there are, and philosophies of life.

For variety, one might gaze up at the stars or out at the surrounding bush. Before dark, the waterhole in the valley below may attract impala, wildebeest, kudu, baboons, or even elephants.

It’s the evening news, Nature Channel, Discovery Channel, and History Channel all rolled into one.

Even better, it brings people together and stimulates thought, provides insights about human nature and builds friendships. Who needs television when you have a fire?

Even in the U.S., we enjoy our campfires during the summer. Roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, making S’mores, stirring up the coals. Sharing, wishing, dreaming, laughing. We just don’t do enough of it (at least our family doesn’t these days).

These times bring joy, and Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” When did watching TV bring that same kind of joy, or help me get to know a friend or understand my family better?

I’ve been fortunate this past week to enjoy “Bush TV” every night. The memories will remain with me for a long time. And so will the urge to sit by a fire and talk.

What about you? What customs does your family have that bring you closer together, and give you a joyful heart?