Today I attended my daughter’s primary school Winter Festival Assembly. How’s that for political correctness? I have to say that I loved every second of it. I don’t know what has happened to me but these frivolous rites of passage always bring a tear or two to my eye. There is something so sweet and innocent about these assemblies that you cannot help but feel hopeful for the world if only for a few minutes.
Our community is very homogenous. Someone once said to me. “Oh, no we have a lot of variety here. There are people with roots from England, Ireland, Scotland and France.” Yeah it’s a veritable U.N. So, imagine my surprise when one class (thankfully, it was one song per class, only) performed a Chanukah song complete with a hora, another sang a Kwanza song (the two black kids in the school were not in that class) and another class sang a Mexican Christmas song (not Feliz Navidad!) and yet another class sang a song in Dutch.
My all time favourite was the class that was so off key even I could tell. I say this because I am notoriously tone deaf. Many a laugh was had by my family over the years as they goaded me into singing Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats. I no longer sing out loud. Once I made the mistake of singing in front of my husband, he laughed, looked at me and said, “Come on, let me hear you sing for real.” Thank you, very much. Anyway, I digress. What I want to say is that the off key class thrilled me. That even more than the international songs demonstrated to me how far our educational system has come since I was kid. Picture a little curly haired girl in grade one, excited to be in the choir, preparing for the big Christmas concert. Now picture that same girl as the choir teacher says to her, “I want you to just move your lips to the words, but don’t make any sound. That’s called mouthing the words, can you do that?”
I want to thank my parents. My very Jewish parents who came to every Christmas concert, sat there and watched me move my lips to the songs. It meant a lot to me then, it means even more to me now.