Bring on the Music!

Decoda’s Program Manager, Maureen Kehler, shares her recent Christmas dance party memories in celebration of Family Literacy Week.

It was our last Christmas together. The Mundias were moving to Zambia, leaving in three weeks for three years. There were seventeen of us, spending six days together and we had to make it special for everyone.

We planned it with the Mundia grandkids (ages 7,9, and 12) from menu to activities to scheduling. Here’s what they said had to happen:

  • homemade mac & cheese, Grandma’s chili and chocolate dingalings (a dessert that I only make at Christmas),
  • a Christmas tree,
  • presents small enough to fit in their suitcases,
  • games (Codenames, Dutch Blitz, and Wizard),
  • movie nights (at least two),
  • skating,
  • swimming, and
  • outside play.

What they didn’t mention was music and dancing. I guess they thought that goes without saying.

I’ve never thought of us as a musical family. The kids and grandkids haven’t had much in the way of formal education in singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument and neither did I. I used to sing to our kids until they said, “Mom, stop!” To this day, I’m not sure if it was the songs I chose or the singing off key that they didn’t like. That didn’t stop me from singing to our grandkids though. They would fall asleep to my off-key lullabies, until they grew too old for naps.

Oh, and the dancing. We had impromptu dance parties while washing dishes, while doing chores, while hanging out after dinner before the next scheduled thing. Just so you know, I don’t dance well; I dance with abandon. Our kids would laugh. I like to think they were laughing with me but probably “at” is more truthful. This carried on to the next generation – the spontaneous dance parties and the laughter directed at my performance.

Now, I delight in the Mundia kids singing from the backseat of the car. Sometimes it’s to what’s on the radio and sometimes they change the lyrics entirely, keeping the rhyming and the rhythm. Sometimes it’s a made-up language put to melody. And yes, sometimes we discuss the expletives or vulgarism within the lyrics.

It makes me smile when my son puts his actions and his thoughts into song. Often, instead of saying it, he sings it. His toddler, Jan, loves this and has started making up his own songs.

Back to the family gathering in December 2023. One of my fondest memories of those few days is the time that Jan’s favourite song was put on and the whole family got up and started singing and dancing along at full volume. The giggles, the laughter, the interesting dance moves, the all-in participation was beautiful! Of course, we had to find another favourite and then another and another.

So, let’s break out a dance move or make up a song. The benefits are amazing!

Here are resources and research to get your family singing and dancing:

There are many of these programs across the province. Contact your literacy outreach coordinator to find out where.

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