The family that sings together clings together

One family of my acquaintance never took vacations. They never did much of anything else together. The children never became involved in after-school activities. They did not develop common interests at home. Now that they’re grown, holidays are times of tension. It’s as if they gather together because families always gather together on holidays, but no one really seems to enjoy each other’s company and no one really seems to know what to talk about or  how to fill the time.

I know another family with two grown brothers living in the same suburb. Both were musicians, and one played in the same community orchestra I did. I didn’t see the other very often, but it was no use asking the one about the other. They could go for months at a time without seeing each other or calling each other on the  phone, although they said they got along just fine.

In an earlier post I mentioned that the tradition of candy making has helped make my family close. It’s our oldest shared tradition, but probably not the most important for family building.

When I was in high school, my father got a visiting professorship for one year across the country from where we lived. My parents decided that rather than staying in motels as we drove there, they’d buy a trailer, and we could camp out and do some good sightseeing. During the year we were there, we took the trailer out on alternate weekends, usually visiting national parks or other beautiful  places. Dad later said he though the shared experiences did more than anything else to mold our family into a unit.

I would like to focus on one aspect of  our shared experiences, which probably started some time before our cross-country trip. We sang. Our repertoire consisted largely of Broadway show tunes, and we particularly enjoyed some songs by Irving Berlin and others that ended up with two songs being sung together. Being an unusually musical family, we sang a lot in three or four part harmony–not easy considering there wasn’t a soprano among us.

We’ve since learned some new favorites and still set aside time for singing whenever we’re together. Since we’re scattered to four different states from coast to coast, that is not more than a couple of times a year. One of my nieces can actually sing soprano.

The point is not how well we sing, although it’s fun bragging about it. I remember driving for some miles on a winding two-lane highway behind a pickup truck with several children in the back, singing at the top of their lungs. They didn’t sound very good; several of us commented on it. I have no idea if they were all one family, but they were sure enjoying themselves together.

That’s the whole point.

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