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A Very Merry (and Busy) Christmas!

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(12/2011) Well, Emmitsburg, it’s that time of the year again. The time of packages, mistletoe, stockings and trees! Santa Claus, gingerbread, reindeer and wreathes! The time when our wallets may feel lighter but our hearts feel fuller. In case you haven’t guessed already, it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year…Christmas! But as you’re dashing through the snow and jingle bell rocking the night away, it’s likely that you’re also looking for things to do with the family that don’t break the bank. Well, fear no more! There are plenty of things to do in the area that can keep the Christmas spirit alive and keep your wallet stocked, too.

On December 4th, there will be a "Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent," performed by the Mount St. Mary’s University Chorale. This is sure to be a great way to celebrate the start of the holiday season. The program will include choral music and scriptural readings, and it will be held at St. Mary’s Chapel on the Hill at the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes in Emmitsburg. The program begins at 3:30 p.m., and it is free and open to the public.

In our little town of Emmitsburg, St. Philomena Catholic Books and Gifts & Holy Grounds Café is offering a variety of programs throughout the month of December. As stated on the store’s website, St. Philomena’s is now under new management by Pam and Bruno Sielaff, who have already begun to transform the store in terms of both its physical appearance and its purpose in the community. In addition to making the atmosphere more inviting, St. Philomena's is aiming to promote local authors and artists by carrying their unique products in the store. This includes one-of-a-kind art pieces and jewelry, which gives the authors and artists more exposure by helping them get their work out in the public.

So what programming are they going to be offering for the community? Well, they have quite a wide variety of things planned for this month that will no doubt be fun for the whole family. On Friday, December 2nd, they will be offering their First Friday Open Mic Nite. Bring out that inner star in you from 7-10 p.m. and have a night out with your family and friends. The Open Mic Nites are held the first Friday of each month from 7-10 p.m. at the café. All are welcome but they ask that you do not bring any electric guitars or drums, only acoustic instruments. Lyrics cannot be offensive, rude, or contrary to their faith. You are welcome to recite poetry or a witness as well. This programming is a great way to become introduced to a receptive audience and gain experience with your performing. The staff asks that you make a small monetary or goods donation to benefit the non-profit organizations in the community.

On Saturday, December 3rd from 1-3 p.m., local author Ann Hall Marshall will be hosting a book signing at St. Philomena Catholic Books for her work entitled "Full Measure of Love." If you are looking for a musical event to attend, you can enjoy the harmony of Celtic Contemporary tunes as "Seasons" performs on Saturday, December 17th from 3-5 p.m.

The Emmitsburg Community Chorus will host their annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 4th at 3 p.m. at the Basilica. The concert will feature the traditional Hallelujah Chorus from G.F. Handel’s oratorio "The Messiah" and W.A. Mozart’s "Alleluia" as arranged by Russell Robinson. It will also include the traditional French carols "Christmas Comes Anew," "Angels Was A-Shoutin’ On Christmas Morn," "Rockin’ in Bethlehem" and "Run to the Manger." Some of our favorite ballads will also be played, including "Silent Night," "Mary Did You Know," "Sleep Holy Child," "Mary’s Son Precious One," "Love Came Down at Christmas," and "All on a Starry Night." The chorus will also be singing at the Emmitsburg Carriage House’s "Evening of Christmas Spirit," St. Catherine’s Nursing Home and Homewood at Crumland Farms. The Emmitsburg Community Chorus is under the direction of Peggy Burrier and Pianist Lisa Mattia.

On Friday, December 9th from 6:30-9:30 p.m., Elias Lutheran Church will be hosting a Christmas Party Coffee House. The event will feature Children’s Praise Choir, Christmas Play, and Silver Lining Band. The event is free, but you may bring a dessert to share.

The Civic Chorus of Gettysburg, PA will be putting on its annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 11th at 3:00 p.m. in the Chapel of the Lutheran Seminary Campus in Gettysburg. The concert will be a varied program of sacred and secular holiday favorites, including both a cappella and instrumentally accompanied selections by composers such as Mozart, Berlioz, Rutter, Biebl, Hayes, Shaw, Degree and more. The chorus is under the direction of Thomas W. Kittinger and accompanied on the piano by Sharon A. Gattens. Other accompanists for the concert include flute, oboe, violin, cello, piano, organ, guitar, bass, and percussion. The concert is free to the public, but there will be an offering collected during intermission for those who wish to contribute.

Also on December 11th, you can bring the family out to see the Mount Instrumental Ensembles Fall Concert. The concert will be under the direction of Dr. Mark Carlson and it will consist of the Wind Ensemble, Lab Band and String Ensemble. The program will begin at 4:00 p.m. in Knott Auditorium on the Mount Saint Mary’s University campus. There is no admission fee. See how all of the hard work the musicians have put in throughout the semester has paid off. It is sure to be a concert that will bring you to your feet, chanting for an encore.

Come on out to see a holiday classic as the Moscow Ballet presents The Great Russian Nutcracker. A tradition for the whole family, this show consists of forty Russian dancers and is set to Tchaikovsky’s famous music. The show will include lavish costumes, larger-than-life puppets, and hand-painted backdrops with 3D effects. It will take place on Monday, December 12th at 7:30 p.m. at the Majestic Theater, located at 25 Carlisle Street in Gettysburg. Tickets are $75.80, $53.80, $42.25, and $31.25 with fees and taxes included, and they can be ordered by phone at 717-337-8200 or by email at

Called the "Jimi Hendrix of the violin" by The New York Times, Eileen Ivers will also be performing at the Majestic Theater with her band, Immigrant Soul, on Tuesday, December 20th at 7:30 p.m. Her skills with the Celtic fiddle are impeccable, and you can see them firsthand at her show entitled "An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas." Along with her band, Ivers has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops. This concert will consist of traditional favorites like "The Holly Tree," "Wexford Carol Medley," and "Christmas Time is Here Again." Tickets are $44, $41, or $37. A pre-show dinner is also available if you wish to make reservations.

As you can see, there are a lot of arts events going on in our area this month. With all of the chaos that comes along with buying presents, decorating, and writing that oh-so-important wish list to Santa Claus, be sure to take the time to come out to some of these events. They will keep the holiday spirit alive and provide fun and entertainment for the whole family. So don’t be a Grinch or a Scrooge…come on out and have some holiday fun! And what is on my wish list this year? All I want for Christmas is for you and your families to have a safe and blessed holiday season!

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke