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rekindle your holidays: music traditions {$50 starbucks giftcard giveaway}

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Our family caroling last week – December 2012.

For part two of our series on celebrating the holidays, we turn to one of my family’s favorite traditions around the holidays — music!

It’s no secret that I love music, but I don’t know if I’ve ever told you how much the rest of my family loves music. As you can see from the sweet photo above of my grandparents and their five kids (see my dad as the cutie in the bottom-right corner?), singing has been a part of our family for generations. My dad is a happy tenor and back-in-the-day-drummer, my mom is a gifted piano player, my sister sings soprano (and happily in the shower, I might add) and can rock an oboe, and Yours Truly has run the gamut from opera, to rock, to folk, and just about everything in between.

Our family loves music. But I especially love how much music was a part of our family traditions growing up. Now as adults, it has been fun to see how that has continued in old and new ways. (Especially with technology!)

So whether your idea of holiday music is singing carols in church, cranking up Michael Buble on Spotify, or smiling at the “fa ra ra ra ra” on A Christmas Story, here are a few more ideas to celebrate the holidays with music!

A classic family photo of my dad’s family caroling. (He’s the cute smiley one in the lower right-hand corner.)

Go A-Caroling!

One of my absolute favorite musical holiday traditions is our family’s annual Christmas caroling night. Ever since we were little tikes, our grandparents would take all 25 family members on my dad’s side of the family out for a night of “Jingle Bells”, “The First Noel”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and whatever zillion other favorites that the first person calls out. Not everyone in our large family would probably consider themselves “musical”, but as Buddy The Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” So singing quietly is not an option in our family.

The best thing about caroling, though, is seeing the way people’s faces light up when a favorite song begins. We have caroled in countless nursing homes and, having had a Grandpa live for a decade with and then pass away from Alzheimer’s, the dementia units were always close to our hearts. I can’t tell you the number of times we would sing while holding the hand of a patient who could no longer remember her own name, but then see her lips begin to move to the chorus of “Silent Night” or “Joy To The World”. The power of music and the power of these songs that have been around for centuries is profound. And at least for me, singing these songs together with loved ones is the truest meaning of the word heartwarming.

So even if you have never caroled before, it is so simple! Just round up a group of friends or family, call a local nursing home or homeless shelter or even go knock on the door of some neighbors or homebound friends. And then just SING. You don’t need to sing well, you don’t need to know all of the verses, and it doesn’t need to last for hours. Just sing a few songs that you love, and invite others to sing along. If you would feel better knowing all of the words and having a plan, you can totally print off some easy lyric sheets beforehand. But otherwise, just go for it. And tell me if you do, because I would love to hear how it goes.

Dust off those old music books!

As a piano teacher, I happen to know for a fact that statistically most of you out there took piano or other musical instrument lessons out there as a kid. And I would bet that many of you have a piano or your instrument of choice somewhere in your home, hopefully not collecting too much dust. Even if you only get it out to play once a year, holiday songs are some of the most fun to play.

So drop by your local music store and grab a book (trust me, they have tons this time of year), and then take an evening to play or sing some holiday tunes! It will be great practice, and you might also find that you want to play those instruments more during other times of the year.

Make your favorite playlists…for free!

Sure, you can always buy songs on iTunes or even pick up hardcopy cds or records of your favorite holiday songs, but if you are looking for some new holiday music, there are so many resources out there now where you can listen to new music for free! Two of my favorites are Pandora and Spotify.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Pandora is an awesome site for creating easy playlists around the artists you love (and then finding new artists in the process!). But I especially love them around the holidays because they have some stellar holiday stations! They have something for just about everyone, including 14 different stations ranging from Classical Christmas, to Country Christmas, to Hanukkah, and everything in between. My three favorites are “Indie Holidays”, “Gospel Christmas” and simply “Christmas”.

Another favorite is Spotify. As opposed to Pandora, you can actually choose which specific song you would like to listen to on Spotify. (And you can listen to it as many times as you’d like!) It is also a social site, so you can check recommendations from your friends or other people you’d like to follow for their favorite holiday tunes.

Go support live music

Nearly every choir, orchestra, band and musical group puts on a Christmas concert each December. And often, those can be some of their primary fundraisers of the year. So whether or not you know someone in the group, grab a friend and go enjoy an evening’s performance of some beautiful holiday music. Usually there’s no singing required.

$50 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway:

How To Enter:

What do you like best about spending time with your family during the holidays? †Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Starbucks gift card!

Rules:

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 12/18/12 to 12/28/12.

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119 comments on “rekindle your holidays: music traditions {$50 starbucks giftcard giveaway}”

  1. Annnd tweeted. I would LOVE a few extra cups of latte in the new year!
    https://twitter.com/Mrs_BridgLady/status/281130318482776064

  2. I love watching old home videos with my family!

  3. I tweeted! https://twitter.com/kickinkitch/status/281134249061539841

  4. Relaxing and watching all the holiday specials.

  5. Christmas eve traditions of eating homemade tamales, chips, and salsa! yum!

  6. Well, I won’t be with my family this year, but I love that I have the technology to still “see” them.

  7. I like retelling funny stories.

  8. Visiting with my family & eating favorite Christmas food!

  9. I love hearing all the family stories of Christmas past, the ones I was part of and the ones long long before me.

  10. I just love the time off we have from work and being busy…it’s just comforting to be with my hubby and my son, all cozy, just us.

  11. Every Christmas day we go to my mom’s house for Christmas Lasagna and then we play CatchPhrase, which is always hysterical – it’s simple but such a laid-back silly way to spend an evening enjoying each other’s company :)

  12. Having hot pot for dinner!

  13. I like having meals together and catching up on our lives!

  14. Getting together to play games and put together puzzles.

  15. Actually seeing each other! We don’t see each other much during the year and Facebook doesn’t cut it. Many of my cousins’ birthdays fall around Christmas, so after we go months without interaction, we’ll get together every weekend for 2 months!

  16. I love that we laugh — a lot!

  17. I love how giddy and excited the kids get as Christmas approaches.

  18. I love catching up on everyone’s lives and eating with them.

  19. It is great to be reminded that you have strong family who loves and cares for you, who you can fall back on no matter where life takes you!

  20. Tweeted!
    https://twitter.com/Bless_Eliz/status/281250911467229185

  21. i love when i finally get a break from school in which during this time i am able to spend more time with my family listening to christmas music, baking,cooking, and eating XD

  22. I just enjoy seeing family I haven’t seen in a while.

  23. I love watching Christmas movies with my family at the holidays.

  24. I love it when my boys are home for break and we can spend time together!

  25. We like to play games and eat! :) We’re not a very musical family, but your tradition sounds fun

  26. We always cook breakfast as a family on Christmas morning and go all out-biscuits and gravy, hash browns, eggs, bacon, etc. Then we open presents and play games the rest of the day. Of course, there is Christmas music in the background from the second we wake up!

  27. My favorite thing is being in the kitchen preparing the meals we share! It gets loud and crazy but its always fun.

  28. I love playing games with my family and eating a warm meal together!

  29. I love gathering around the kitchen and talking and laughing with all the wonderful women in my family. Great food and conversation make the holidays the best!

  30. We like to bake at the holidays.

  31. I love when the kids are home from school, the gifts are purchased, and we can all relax. Favorite way to chill as a family is to watch a Christmas movie together.

  32. What I like best about spending time with your family during the holidays is that I don’t see them muhc the rest fo the year.

  33. tweet
    https://twitter.com/wizardewu/status/281554941787656192

  34. I just love having my husband home for a couple of days without him having to go to work/answer his phone/check his emails. It’s the one time of year we get to spend as a family.

  35. I love baking cookies and riding bikes with my six year old nephew!

  36. I look forward to relaxing and catching up. We’re always so busy.

  37. I love seeing all of my extended family who I don’t see that often!

  38. I love spending time cooking a big meal together for Christmas Eve, stuffing ourselves silly, then sitting around hanging out after. Love just being with the family!

  39. Loving baking, watching movies and chatting together.

  40. https://twitter.com/tcarolinep/status/281638703519121408

  41. My favorite part of spending time with my family generally comes late in the night, usually over dessert, coffee, and hot cocoa, when the nostalgic stories are retold. Inevitable, we drag out the baby pictures and home videos. We always end up laughing so hard we cry. I wouldn’t trade these times for anything in the entire world.

  42. Forming lasting memories for my husband and I, even though our young sons are too little to remember it all.

  43. i love watching christmas movies with my family

  44. tweeted – https://twitter.com/steffers516/status/282241704784969729

  45. I love making cookies for Santa with my son. He’s autistic so he doesn’t want to touch anything or even eat the cookies (he’s that picky!) but he still gets so excited.

  46. My daughters have to make me wait until after Thanksgiving to start my Christmas music. I have to get a new album (dating myself here) every year.

  47. I like playing games together and cooking with my family.

  48. Tweet link: https://twitter.com/shala_darkstone/status/282494201336324097

  49. I like just relaxing at home with the family and not having any activities to have to rush to!

  50. I like caroling and then baking treats with them! :)