A few weeks ago, this post on reclaiming the joy of the holidays lit up my Facebook feed, and I couldn’t help but click. The holidays can so quickly become overwhelming. How can we reclaim the holidays for what we really want them to represent? The article gives lots of real tips for reassessing our holiday frenzy, but a key aspect is missing: music.
For many of us, the holidays mean following traditions, cozying up with family, and finding ways to celebrate the colder and darker months. For our family, all three of these pieces are intricately tied with music. We clear the schedule, warm up some tea, and grab our instruments to play beloved carols while we can (hey, come January 1st, we’re no longer allowed to play them!). Reclaiming the holidays for us means returning to a deep tradition of music. I’m a little surprised that I can’t find a study that assesses how many holiday songs the average American recognizes. I’m going to guess at least 80, maybe more for those who attend church. All of us have those that we love, and those carols that we wish wouldn’t get stuck in our heads so often. (Let’s admit it: Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmas Time is kind of annoying after the 10th time on the radio in an hour.) Our family has a big long list of carols that we love to sing and play that we return to again and again every December. It’s a way to connect, slow down, and savor the season -- just what we all need.
But the holidays are more than just a wonderful time to strengthen family traditions around music. The holidays are the ultimate payoff for sticking to lessons. Younger children join in the caroling with their voices, but the older children suddenly find their years of music lessons relevant on another level -- now they can accompany their aunt on their favorite songs! Families can pull out the Christmas Fake Book and everyone can sight-read together! Children from families who attend church or other religious service find they can contribute to services in a meaningful and welcomed way, on their instruments!
One more thing on reclaiming the holidays: Gifts don’t have to be things. Let’s admit it. We’re all overwhelmed with our stuff and the garage is pretty packed as it is. How about violin lessons for a holiday present? Your gift will outlast the newest gadget by decades, when your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild has musical skills to draw on for life, creative outlet, and a great way to communicate with others. Please let your friends and family know about Violin Tree this holiday season -- and give the gift of music!