I grew up during a time when we had events that were a regular part of our family routine.

One was Sunday dinners and the other was Sunday drives in the family car.

The Sunday drive usually took place in the afternoon after a late Sunday breakfast at home that now flies under the brunch banner in a restaurant with our new era of fewer home-cooked meals.   


I lived on an acreage just outside of a community that had a little over 20,000 people during my childhood. We were already about a couple of miles out of town so it was not a big reach for my parents to load up the car with kids and hit the road for a Sunday drive.


The pace was leisurely and the route was usually a variety of quiet country roads that led us deeper into the world of our rural neighbors. The Sunday drives were a big part of our routine as a family, despite the fact my dad drove every day as part of his job.


However, he loved time behind the wheel and Sunday excursions with his family were not work for him. His job as a member of Alberta’s Highway Patrol unit was only one facet of his life and his Sunday drives were simply recreation for him.


The idea of a road adventure of any kind always had a built-in appeal for me when I was a kid. Therefore Sunday drives were a great idea as one of our regular family events. My dad always picked interesting routes and we saw plenty of what is rightfully known as the Parkland in my area.


I think of the Chuck Berry song ‘No Particular Place to Go’ whenever I think of those Sunday drives from my childhood. We would never have heard the song on my father’s radio on Sunday drives because he had his radio set on easy-listening stations, but I was well aware of the song from Top 40 stations during my kid years.


The Chuck Berry song had the right philosophy because the Sunday drive was never about the destination as much as it was about the journey in the car as a family. It was a simple concept that gave us an opportunity to enjoy our family time on the road together and see the world outside of our car windows.


Conversation was king and my parents were always able to answer a never-ending series of questions from curious kids about that world we were seeing at about 50 miles an hour. There was no Google search on a cell phone for answers in the Fifties and Sixties-only parents when it came to answers on a Sunday road trip.


These days Sunday drives are not common for families. People find most of their contact with the bigger world on an electronic screen and few people embrace the simple joy of a road trip on a back road in the country with a car full of family.


A Sunday drive is another tradition that has been lost to time over the years. I believe it is an uncomplicated gem of an idea that should still have a place in our overly complicated new world of electronic detachment.

I recommend a regular Sunday drive tradition for any family in 2017. Leave every communication device at home, shut off the onboard entertainment system, and listen to the car radio with the dial set on a local station.


Just remember what we learned a long time ago: conversation is encouraged in a car.   

Jim Sutherland

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