A few weeks ago I was introduced to a new family reunion song. It was written and recorded by a talented musician, Brenda Fielding. Besides being a recording artist and song writer, Brenda is also a fan of family reunions and has a rich family heritage. Brenda’s song “Side by Side” talks about that heritage. One verse of the song says,
"Year after year, we gather you and I
Exchange our hugs and catch up on our lives
We play ball in a field
Pillow fights in a tent
Then hold the newest babies that were heaven sent."
Don’t you just love that- that’s a family reunion summed up in one verse. You may listen to Brenda’s song, “Side By Side” at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brendafielding .
Brenda contacted me a few weeks ago. Her family is planning a “Caveman” theme reunion this year and she was so friendly and outgoing that I thought it would be fun to talk to her about her song, her life and her family reunions. Here’s part of that conversation-
AUNT MO: Brenda, tell us a little about yourself.
BRENDA: I love music and family. I am a songwriter with a great husband and eight children. I have been married 26 years and I live in Scappoose, Oregon. My husband and I have owned our own businesses since 1992. We own a tree company and have done a lot of real estate. We have only owned our tree business for 8 years, before that we started and owned 2 restaurants for 14 years. We have also owned and ran a beauty salon and a horse ranch. I graduated from BYU in 1997 in Education. I love the piano and have played and taught it for most of my life. I also love to paint and appreciate all art.
AUNT MO: Where did you get the idea for your family reunion song, "Side by Side"?
BRENDA: I got the idea from the wonderful family I married into, the Fieldings. They have had an annual reunion since 1973. They wouldn’t even dream of not having a reunion every single year. We usually come together on a Friday and leave on a Monday. We have our traditional games, family pictures, and the cousins are loud and jump all over each other. We also play "Run My Sheepy Run" on Saturday night- which entails all the kids running around in the moonlight hiding behind trees etc. Sunday night is always the testimony meeting with s’mores.
AUNT MO: My favorite line in the song is "We look to the past and pull it forward" How did you come up with that line?
BRENDA: I came up with the line because that is our heritage. We look to the past and we still do what our ancestors do. We respect that. How did I come up with it? I’m not sure, I just thought of it because I was thinking about how to express respecting our heritage and traditions.
AUNT MO: Do you have any traditions you repeat every year at your family reunions?
BRENDA: We love to do the “Egg Toss” game. Everyone has a partner and tosses the egg then backs up about 3 feet each.
One of our oldest traditions is “Dummy Doll”: A very fluffy pretty puppet that is operated out of a doorway or a tent door. The kids ask it questions and the dummy dolls bites their fingers if they put them in it’s mouth. The kids love this and has been a tradition since the 1930’s.
We also love doing a “Fish pond”: All the parents bring a small gift of $5 or so. Older teens pin up a blanket and there is a pin attached to a plastic bag with a stick.
We also do a “Treasure Hunt”: All the grandkids have their name on a brown paper bag filled with peanuts and candy. They have to find their own bag.
Family pictures with some sort of matching t shirts. Last year we all tie dyed white shirts- the pictures turned out great. The year before all the males were in white collared shirts and all the females with in red and everyone had on blue jeans- very cute pictures. Before that we mainly had different colors for each family- so 10 different colors that we rotated every year.
AUNT MO: Most families struggle with how to pay for their family reunions. What works for your family?
BRENDA: Each family is assigned a meal which they buy all the ingredients for and make when it’s their turn. We all turn in our receipts to one uncle who makes sure that it’s all fair. Each family has to pay $200 plus $20 for each additional person in their family. That pays for a pretty nice reunion site then the uncle figures up all the receipts and gives a refund back for the food costs- all equal.
AUNT MO: How do your organize and plan your family reunions?
BRENDA: We have an adult meeting with all the original 10 kids and spouses and grandparents and we discuss the next year’s events.
AUNT MO: You’re a musician, how do you incorporate music into your family reunions?
BRENDA: "Love at Home" is sung at every testimony meeting cuz it was old Grandpa Fielding’s favorite. We include music in our morning devotionals. We have had some challenges with our devotional in the mornings, so this year we are going to start breakfast and then have a devotional after everyone starts coming in to eat. Hopefully it’ll work better and be better attended. We also include a little music before and after the talent show and also before the testimony meeting. We are going to use a www.familyreunionhelper.com idea this year and have a "Family Heritage" church instead of going to the local ward for church. That will give us some great opportunities for incorporating music into our reunion.
You can find the “Love At Home” song Brenda mentions at
“Love At Home”
AUNT MO: I’m sure a lot goes into writing and producing your own album, do you have plans for a second album?
BRENDA: I have enough songs for it, in fact, I have several more that I can use for a 3rd CD. I think you’ll like my new songs. One is called "The Widow’s Mite", "How did He know" (about how Jesus knew a woman in a crowd after she sought him out, now knowing who he was), "Tender Mercies", etc. It costs $1,000 per song to get it arranged and recorded. A couple thousand more for other production costs, CD cases, and the covers. I haven’t done it yet cuz I’m trying to figure out how to pay for it.
The title of Brenda’s album is “Let Christ In”. At CD Baby.com people can purchase the CD, download the album or for 99 cents you can download just the family reunion song, “Side by Side”. You can find Brenda’s music at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brendafielding
One of the best things about familyreunionhelper.com is meeting new people and making new friends. Good luck to Brenda and to the whole Fielding family!