Family Time Calendar: Get Relaxed - iVillage

The holiday season has been the inspiration for some of the most well-known and beloved classical pieces -- ones even the most pop-oriented of us can name within a few notes, such as The Nutcracker Suite. And there are other pieces that you might not be able to name, but sound familiar and are often played during this season (even if they weren't specifically composed for it), such as Pachelbel's Canon. Tonight, introduce your children to the beauty of this music and the habit of listening to it while enjoying cups of hot cocoa. (If you're really not into classical music, try George Winston's December album -- a beautiful selection of piano pieces by a modern master that has a bit of a New Age feel.)

What you'll need:
One or more classical music pieces on CD or MPEG (see recommended pieces below)
Hot cocoa or chocolate
Recommended Pieces and Albums:
The Nutcracker by Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky
March of the Wooden Soldiers by Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky
Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel
December by George Winston

What you'll do:
Heat up a big pot of hot cocoa or chocolate. (The difference? Cocoa is made from cocoa powder, to which you then add sugar and vanilla, along with hot milk. Hot chocolate is made from chocolate shavings heated in milk. If you can get a tin of hot chocolate shavings, we would argue it's an indulgence worth a try.) Choose a comfortable room of your house in which you can play music, and dim the lights. Set out steaming mugs of the stuff, each topped with a marshmallow, and put on your music. Help your kids listen by encouraging them to close their eyes and let the music tell its story in their heads, and ask them to sit still until they've at least finished their drink. Budding ballerinas, of course, may barely be able to sit still if you are playing Tchaikovsky! Enjoy their pirouettes as part of your own relaxation -- they will only be sugar plum fairies for so long. Besides, a little evening dancing might make for an easier bedtime.


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