Life Skills not Land Fill (Holiday shopping guide 2013)

Instead of giving a “thing” this year- how about giving…. permission!  To yourself, first, and then to those you love.

Permission not to follow the rules, to follow your heart.  To share the wealth of love rather than the poverty of obligation.  Or to give the most precious of gifts- your time and affection in a communal act of sharing a meal, a conversation or a song.  The giving of gifts is about connection.  And so is music.


This year Hanukkah came and went mighty early, but we are not slowing down on the Dreidel song.  It is my favorite Holiday party tune.  For one thing it only has 2 chords so even the newest player can join in.  And non- players can get in on the improvising of the verses.  We sing it as a rhyming game-  each “making” our dreidel out of what ever crazy thing we can think of- and then twisting a rhyme. “Dreidel, dreidel , dreidel, I made you out of…sugar! And now my pretty dreidel is a dried up little booger!”   (Highbrow!)

This year we made a dreidel for real. “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, made from a CD!  I like to spin my dreidel- won’t you spin it with me!”

It’s a scratched disc turned upside down, the hebrew characters drawn on in sharpie.  We hot-glued a marble in the middle for the first one, but it fell out after repeated play.  In a moment of crafty inspiration we used an eye– the kind one would use when making a stuffed animal- and it works like a charm! (we do have some of the oddest odds ‘n’ ends around here.)

Our other favorite holiday song we are sharing this year is “I Saw Three Ships”.  Sung to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” it is instantly accessible.

“I saw three ships come sailing in, I saw three ships come sailing in, I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day in the Morning” is the best known verse.  In the next verse we ask “What do you think was in those ships, what do you think was in those ships, what do you think was in those ships on Christmas Day in the morning?”

And then the fun part:  following the same form we sing  the answers.  Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, Toys and gifts, Silly kids….

Listen to a gorgeous version of this song (without the silly verses) on Elizabeth Mitchell and You are My Flower’s brand-new holiday album “The Sounding Joy”  .  This is an gorgeous collection of songs played and arranged with so much love you will want to have every one of them in your heart to share forever.  They are old songs with so much connection they resonate long and deep.  Your grandmother might know these songs.  Your children definitely should know them.  When people record music like this they are sharing a huge gift- teaching us the songs we need to know to make our lives better.

I look around at the pain and the troubles in life- my own small problems and those of others who facenfar more difficult circusmtances then I will ever know- sometimes I wonder- what is the point?  What is there to celebrate?  What can we do? What is it that makes it all worthwhile?  The answer always comes back the same: LOVE.  Joining others in song is bringing about peace.  Harmony is harmony.  Connecting to one another, finding and sharing love, making just one sparkling moment of music with one another- that’s all there really is.  And it’s worth it.

Share a song this year.  It is the most beautiful gift in the world.  Here’s a link to a song for you– It’s not a commercial recording- just a rehearsal track I made for the 5th grade girls at one of my schools who wanted a challenge.   I made the arrangement, Daniel recorded it in the bedroom and slapped on a bunch of church-y reverb.  I made it for practical reasons: so they could listen to it over and over and learn their parts.  Do I care whether it’s “good enough” to share?

No.  It is.  It’s good enough because it is full of love.

Now- give yourself permission to share a song, whether or not it is “ready” or “good”.  Give it with love.  You will be giving the greatest gift in the world!  (and if you do- please- write and tell me about it- that will be a gift to me!)