I can’t imagine the Christmas season without music. I love that holiday music is played almost everywhere at this time of the year. Music has been an important part of our family celebrations for as long as I can remember. During our parties, we sing and play musical instruments together, enjoying both the music and the time with our loved ones.
My interest in music was fostered from a young age. When I was in second grade, my school offered students the chance to take piano lessons. Intrigued by the presentation, that evening I asked my parents’ permission to play the piano. Not only did my parents immediately sign me up for classes, but on the weekend, my dad took me to the store and we actually purchased a piano. Having grown up in an immigrant family of modest means, my father wanted to be sure that his children were given every opportunity to pursue their academic and extracurricular interests. In a way, I was inspired by my father who started to take guitar and banjo lessons as an adult. I loved playing the piano, and in fourth grade took up the flute as well.
Everyone in my family seems to have a love of music. Many of my relatives play musical instruments, and one of my cousins is a professional musician who just wrote and produced her first opera. With all of the interest in music, it is no wonder that at family parties, the instruments come out and we play and sing together. Whenever I think of Christmas, I think of the family sing along. Everyone either plays an instrument or sings.
During our teen years, my cousins and I weren’t all that enthusiastic about participating in the family sing along, but grandma made sure that we participated. Once the music started, we were happy to sing away, and we quickly forgot about acting like cool teenagers. On the years that I have been unable to make it home for the holidays, I sorely miss playing my flute with the family. A Christmas celebration is just not the same without music.
Music has played an integral role in raising my sons to speak Spanish, so this holiday season, I purchased several different CDs that have villancicos, or Spanish Christmas carols. We have loved learning new songs and my sons are learning new words through the lyrics. We sing the music at home, in the car, and even while doing our Christmas shopping.
This year I will be taking our Spanish Christmas music to the family gatherings. I know that my family will be open to the new music, and that they will be eager to try singing in Spanish. As my family plays and sings the new songs, new words will be learned, a new culture will be embraced, and we will be incorporating a new twist into our family tradition that will be interesting and fun.