I remember as a child, my family lived far away from my grandparents. So a trip to grandma’s house was a big deal. It was easily 5 or 6 hours in the car. My sister and I relegated to the back seat. Mom had prepared all kinds of goodies for us to snack on, or to eat so we didn’t have to stop and eat on the road. We always listened to NPR, which as a kid was torture, until it wasn’t. Eventually, the voice of Garrison Keillor became melodic and I loved to hear him tell a story. Plus I really loved the powder milk biscuit’s song. “Oh, has your family tried ’em, powder milk?…If your family’s tried ’em, oh, you know it satisfied ’em, they’re a real hot item, powder milk.” Now that wasn’t the only thing we did on car trips to Grandma’s. We often sang songs together. There was a tape of children’s music to which we listened we listened. And I’m sure we listened to our share of popular music. It’s how I learned to love John Denver and Paul Simon and Lenard Cohen and the Moody Blues and the Beach Boys and the Beatles and the list goes on.
Now I don’t want to idealize them too much. I remember Dad always got uptight when we were about to travel, and by the end of the trip there were definitely the, “Are we there yet?” moments. There weren’t many fights in the back seat that I remember, though there were the “don’t cross this line,” moments, and the tattle tale moments. For the most part, those car rides were good family time. And a part of me misses them.
Today I am taking the kids and we are traveling to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It’ll take us between 4 and 5 hours to get there, and I have plans for snacks and music. I expect a part of the time they might sleep (especially if they don’t get a nap at day care today, which is possible since they are excited to be picked up early to go to Grandma’s). Then again, they might not. We may need to take a break along the way, but I am most thoughtful about the Kairos time we will be spending together. What kind of memories are we forming today? Maybe nothing specific, but hopefully memories of the traditions and rituals that go with traveling to Grandma’s house.