“I Sing. You Enjoy.”

I didn’t expect much.

I’m not much into Christmas decorations or holiday lights, and haven’t been for many, many years.

As the youngest of four kids growing up on Long Island, N.Y., the chore of laboriously lighting the house for the holidays and then taking them back down in early January, often fell to me, since no one else in the family had the time, nor interest, to do it.

Each year was a challenge to come up with some kind of different decoration other than the same old dreary, random string-of-lights on trees or outline of a portion of our split-level house. In my junior year of college — the year of the shootings of students at Kent State — I came home from school determined to make the lights send a message to our politically conservative neighborhood.

With the Vietnam War raging, and two years after I lost my childhood friend, Henry York in the Tet Offensive, and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated, I thought it was time to turn our Christmas lights into a form of political protest. So I carefully strung the lights up in the form of a giant peace sign on the front of our house, making it clear where we stood on the War, in our heavily Republican town.

When my mother’s brother Eddie — an early MAGA-ite clinging to the cave dwellings of prejudice — arrived for Christmas Eve dinner — he burst into our house shouting about why we were displaying a “Communist Sign,” out front. Never one to be bullied, my mother — a Catholic Workers’ kind of Catholic — thrust her chin out to her physically much bigger brother, and told him a “Peace” sign was completely in the spirit of Christmas, and that would be that.

That was the last time I decorated my parents house for Christmas, and I was glad to be done with the onerous — and what I considered to be a pointless task — since, to me, commercial Christmas had lost its meaning. When I converted to Judaism some years later, I was relieved that holiday decorating was no longer part of my annual duties, although it took me a while to let go of it, especially the Christmas tree. Old, emotional habits die hard.

So this year, when we scheduled a family trip to an over-the-top decorated family farm in Sonoma, California, named “Dillonland,” I was expecting to be disappointed. However, since I was with my son and granddaughters, I knew I could endure anything.

“Dillonland” was a dizzying hodgepodge of lights and vinyl blow-ups of movie characters, and when we entered the property and greeted the Dillons, I joked that all they needed was to pipe in the music of Bob Dylan to set the right mood. My joke fizzled like an exploded light bulb. So, I decided to just observe the delight of our youngest granddaughter, Age 8.

She didn’t disappoint, running from one display to the next; borrowing my I-phone camera to snap photos of one bizarre, blitz of lights after the other. Watching her made the entire experience into fun.

But, the most unexpected joy came in the hour-long ride home, when I sat in the back seat on one side of this effervescent eight-year old, and my son, her father, sat on the other. She began to softly sing a song she learned in Spanish for her holiday concert, entitled “Doy Gracias Por Muchas Cosas,” or, “Things I’m Thankful for,” by Hap Palmer. While she sang in her light, lilting voice, she gently massaged her father’s head, to relieve a migraine he had earlier.

Since I love to sing along with her, and make things sillier, I asked if she could teach me the song, since I was on a 222 day streak of learning Spanish on Duolingo.

“No Grampy,” she said firmly. “I sing; You enjoy.”

And, so I did.

She sung the entire song in the impeccably natural Spanish accent that bilingual young children have, and as she chanted the opening line — Doy gracias por muchas cosas — we were all silenced by the innocence and beauty of the eight-year old’s voice, including her grandmother who was driving the car, and is blessed with a sweet, lyrical voice of her own.

In soft, clear tones, our girl, known as G, followed the song’s instructions to “let me tell you what they are,” these things for which she was thankful — muchas cosas:

The English version of this beautiful song can be found here:

but it does not compare to the gentle, loving Spanish lullaby which young G sang for all of us:

Doy gracias por el mundo, (the earth)

Doy gracias por el mar (the sea);

Doy gracias por mis amigos (my friends),

Doy gracias por ser como soy (to be me).

Doy gracias por el sol (the sun),

Doy gracias por cada arbol (each tree);

Doy gracias por mi casa (my home),

Doy gracias por ser como soy (to be me).

Doy gracias por mi comida (my food),

Doy gracias por mi libre (to be free);

Doy gracias por las estellas (the stars),

Doy gracias por ser como soy (to be me).

So, I just sat back and enjoyed, while Ms. G, sang softly, and gently massaged away all of our pain, her angelic voice transporting each one of us to a place of beauty, light and joy, during the darkest of times.

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