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Sunday Drives

Main Piece: CR: Grandpa worked 6 days a week and Sunday was his only day off. It was important for him to connect with his family. If you stay at home, I’m off playing with a friend or watching TV, or grandma is asking him to clean the garage, so all four of us would load up in the car and we would drive. And we would just go. Sometimes we’d drive to the desert, sometimes to the mountains. But it wasn’t about the destination. Sometime we’d stop and get a meal, sometimes a soda, look at something interesting, but we weren’t driving for the sake of going somewhere, we were driving for the sake of four people in a car, sharing space and talking. And I hated it, because I’d rather be playing with my friend!  But now as a parent, I can see why they did that That was his way of keeping connected with his family every week. When you and I would go visit Aunt A, that was important, because it waa just the two of us, talking and laughing. And then also, your first year of college! I know i would come pick you up and you were always normally not feeling good, and then when we’d be sitting in traffic for 2 ½ hours sitting that we would have some time together. I think those times in cars as being time to connect. I will extrapolate more even! When you were a baby you would talk and talk and talk, and in the backseat, and I’d have to say to you, “no talking in the car because I’m driving, no talking in the car.” And then I did have a point where I thought to myself, “I have to stop saying that because i don’t want you to think there’s no talking in the car because isolated car time is perfect time for interactions!”


Context: Sunday Drives were taken every Sunday, in both CR’s childhood and in her daughter’s childhood.


Background: Sunday Drives were an important part of CR’s relationship with her parents as she was growing up, and so when she grew her own family she knew that this tradition was just as important to her as it was to her father.


Analysis: Sunday Drives are a typical thing in the American culture; the housewife has been home cleaning all week, her husband has been working 9-5 Monday through Friday, and Sunday is his last day off before he goes to work, before the kids go back to school, etc. Across families, this tradition of taking a family trip to nowhere in particular, or driving just for the sake of driving, is a huge piece of folklore in America. For CR’s family, both as she was growing up and as she was raising her own daughter, these regular drives were so important, as they were time when you were sort of forced to be with your family, you were supposed to bond and have conversations and laugh, and you got to spend a whole day together without any distractions.


For another version of this tradition, see CBS News.


How to Cure a Stomach Ache

Main Piece: CR: When I was a kid and had an upset stomach, my mom would tell me to drink flat, like un-carbonated soda, and immediately eat a pickle right after. This was supposed to fix my upset stomach.


Context: This performance was done over the phone, but this practice was done every time CR had an upset stomach.


Background: CR learned this from her mother, who she assumed also learned it from her mother, and used to apply the soda portion of this remedy to her daughter when she was young.


Analysis: Research has shown countless times that there are few, if any, scientific results from drinking a flat soda to cure an upset stomach, and even fewer exist regarding the pickle. But, oddly enough, CR reported that everytime she was given this remedy for an upset stomach, it worked! This is a huge example of the success of the placebo effect: while there is no reason for this to work, the simple idea of it working allows for it to help relieve a stomach ache.


Lighting the Christmas Pudding

Main Piece: KC: Every christmas we have a Christmas pudding, which is, y’know, made from fruit… it’s like a gross fruit cake! And for some reason in my family it’s tradition– and I didn’t think it was weird… here i have a video! And basically you pour brandy in a ladle and light it on fire and put it over the cake, and it makes these beautiful flames, and then we sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and then we eat it!


Context: KC’s family regularly performs this Christmas tradition on Christmas Eve after dinner.


Background: KC is very tied to her British roots, as her parents moved from England while her mother was pregnant with her, and so she has grown up with this and countless other British traditions being passed onto her through her direct and extended family.


Analysis: Hearing this part of KC’s Christmas traditions was particularly interesting, as she told it as if it were a completely normal thing– as you can see by her saying “I didn’t think it was weird”. In telling this story, and seeing reactions to her story, it seemed to be her first inkling that this tradition was not something that every family practices. This Christmas pudding is a very regular practice in England, learned upon more research, and it is particularly interesting due to its heavy requirements in the types of fruit involved, the necessary custard, and the quintessential lighting of the brandy on top.


For another version of this Christmas tradition, see The Telegraph, a British news-source.


Why do we have Christmas Lights?

Main Piece: SR: So when I was growing up, we put Christmas lights on our house every year, and my dad told us the reason you do it is because Santa then knows that there’s kids in your house, and the houses without lights don’t have kids and so he doesn’t go to those houses!


Context: This tradition was practiced every Christmas.


Background: SR’s family was big on celebrating Christmas, as they were a big family with lots of kids and lots of grandkids, and so the amount of Christmas traditions, specifically Santa related, were abundant.


Analysis: I love this piece especially. Christmas lights are very common around the holiday season (and even a little too long afterwards sometimes!), but never before have I heard a reason given for Christmas lights. I love that Santa is brought into every aspect of SR’s Christmas– from the usual tree and presents and cookies to the less common Christmas lights! It also provides explanation for the houses that might make your kids sad with no lights– they’re not rude, they don’t hate Christmas, don’t worry! They just don’t have any kids so they need to make sure Santa knows not to come!


A Bushel and a Peck

Main Piece: CR: I always sang my daughter “a bushel and a peck”. I’m not entirely sure grandma sang it to me, but I’m gonna assume she did, and we sorta ended up having to make up our own words at the end of it because I don’t think we know what the real words are, but yeah so I sang it to my daughter, and my mom sang it to her too. Our version went, “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap, a barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you.” I think grandma would sing it “a pocket full of sheep.”


Context: This song was sung to CR as a lullaby, and CR sung it to her daughter as a lullaby.


Background: CR and her husband raised their daughter with lullabies sung to her every night, because that’s how they were raised as well. This was the specific song sung to her daughter by her; her husband had a different song he would sing when he took her to bed.

Analysis: This song was originally published in 1950’s, and adopted as a part of the musical Guys and Dolls. CR’s mother probably learned it from that, or heard it on the radio one day, and started singing it to CR, who then remembered it as her childhood lullaby and passed it on to her daughter. The most interesting part of this story is that CR assumes her mother sang this to her– it may not have been! CR’s mother could very easily have sung a different lullaby, but because CR sang it to her daughter she so firmly accepts that her mother also sang it to her, because why else would she know it as a lullaby? This kind of ingrained idea is so fascinating to discover.