By: Sandy Churchill
Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, Feliz Navidad, Breath of Heaven, Grown-up Christmas List… Whatever your taste in music for Christmas, Hanukkah, and throughout the winter season, there can be an undeniable spirit lift in music. An extra boost happens magically when we sing along. I cannot count how many times a dreary mood on a gray day is transformed with a snappy song, especially in winter. This music magic has been on my mind often lately, as I care for my 14 month-old grandson a couple days a week. This lively ball of energy sparkles when we sing… the “Winnie-the-Pooh” song, “B-I-N-G-O”, the alphabet song, or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.
We have songs on our stroller walks, which span from “One-Two-Buckle My Shoe” and “Happy Birthday”, to family renditions of “Down in the Valley”, “Bicycle Built for Two” and a Marie Osmond favorite from my childhood called “Dandelion”.
My husband has the magic touch with the ‘70s folk song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” which lulls little guy to sleep every time without fail. I’m not sure if it’s the soothing melody or my husband’s smooth tenor but the nap-without-tears tool is priceless for sure.
Baby Henry even fetches the Sandra Boynton picture book, Snuggle Puppy, which we sing nearly every time I see him. It’s not enough to read the book—we have to sing it!
What’s especially enchanting about the singing magic is that effort—not exemplary talent—seems to be all that matters. Case in point: we can be driving doing errands, or listening at home, to the radio or music on a TV or phone and little guy prefers singing. He may fuss a bit in the car when it’s close to nap time, but as soon as I turn off the radio and sing to him, he settles in and even claps like an enthusiastic audience member. Happy birthday is a steady crowd-pleaser—no matter if no one’s birthday is close by. “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and “Your Nose” are two favorites his mama sings, and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is his sleepy song with Dad.
Aside from joy, togetherness, and a bevy of silly memories, another singing bonus is the vocab-building power of music! Little guy now fills in “star” after “Twinkle…” and “Pooh” when we croon about the Hundred Acre Wood. It brings a smile that even a lengthy walk in the brisk outdoors can be serenaded with a Nana and baby song, and he beams with each refrain. Singing costs nothing, and your young audience is likely pretty forgiving if you forget lyrics or launch a bit off-key. No matter. Your charges are probably thrilled with the fun and silliness of singing together. And if you don’t know the words? Make them up! I do it all the time 😉