Christian Chronicle

Music and memories: Life lessons on a family road trip

A nostalgic journey to Branson, Mo., the popular vacation destination in Ozark Mountains.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

BRANSON, Mo. — I blink, and I’m a child again.

It’s the late 1970s, and I’m bickering with my younger brother and sister over my birthright: a larger allotment of space in the back of our family’s station wagon. 

We’re driving down the interstate, headed to my grandparents’ home in southeastern Missouri’s Bootheel. Or maybe we’re off to Libertyland or Opryland — since-closed theme parks in Tennessee.

Sometimes, we pack fried bologna sandwiches for the ride and stop for a picnic. Other times, we pull into a fast-food joint — a treat in those bygone days — and devour cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes.

I blink again, and I’m a young father. 

It’s the first decade of the 2000s, and our extended family rents a cabin on a lake in West Tennessee.

A keepsake photo of the Rosses, taken at Clay Cooper Theatre in Branson, Mo.

For several years, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents spend a week each summer swimming, fishing and grilling out. 

We bask in the sun and the time with loved ones. Eventually, as the youngest family members begin playing sports and marching in bands, the annual lake trips fade away.

I blink again, and I’m a grandfather.

It’s the summer of 2022, and I love my life as a husband, father and “Papa” to two absolutely perfect grandbabies. But I still feel nostalgic at times for the road trips of my youth, with the first family who made them memorable.

So when my parents, Bob and Judy Ross, and my sister, Christy Fichter, invite me to join them for a week in Branson — the popular vacation destination in the Ozark Mountains — I quickly accept. 

Read the full story.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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