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The Arts Scene

Rejuvenate the season

Kathryn Franke
MSM Class of 2013

(12/2012) Christmas. The word brings forth such joy and excitement in people of all ages. Children loyally write their letters to Santa, listing the countless things they want and reassuring him that they were in fact good this year. Cookies are baked and halls are decked. The coveted "25 Days of Christmas" begins to play on television, and Christmas carols cycle through our radios all day, every day, until the big day arrives.

As they say, "Itís the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and we are able to spend it with family, friends, and all those who are closest to us. But in the spirit of all the festivities, we sometimes forget the real meaning of Christmas. Itís not done intentionally, but we tend to lose sight of the true wonders of the holiday. With all of the pressures to buy and wrap presents and decorate our homes, Christmas itself often becomes overshadowed by the material value we place upon the day. Presents, which were meant to be a symbolic gesture representing the gifts from the Three Wise Men, have seemingly become the main reason behind the holiday.

I myself have been guilty of this, and I am making a special effort this year to change that. As a senior at a Catholic university, I have really grown in my faith over the years. The Mount has provided me with a nurturing environment for my faith, one that has encouraged me to explore and develop it over the years.

With this coming Christmas, I am approaching it in a different way. I know that I will get much more out of the holiday by removing its material mask from its religious foundation. I encourage you all to do the same, because Christmas is so much more meaningful than it sometimes seems. If we look beyond all the things that we have come to deem as "necessities" of Christmas: the presents, the candy, the decorations, what do we have left? The foundation upon which we base all of these traditions.

This is not to say that we shouldnít be partaking in these traditions, but we need to remember why we have them in the first place: the birth of Christ. That is what Christmas is all about. Iím sure many of you have seen the holiday classic, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." In response to Charlie Brownís plea, "Isnít there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" Linus comes out onto the stage, blanket in hand, and explains the true meaning of Christmas.

Reciting from the King James Version of Luke 2: 8-14, Linus read:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Thatís what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Going off of Linusí message, I wanted to give you all a plethora of events that can make this holiday season that much more enjoyable by helping everyone get in the holiday spirit and delve deeper into its true meaning, This month is full of wonderful events for the family, so mark your calendars!

December 1st

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is hosting a Natural Wreath Making Workshop on Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 1:00 Ė 2:30 pm at the Preserve. Learn how to make a "field and forest" wreath, which is made entirely from natural collected materials. Everything will be supplied to make one 10" wreath including cones, nuts, and seedpods, but you may also bring any additional decorative items and ribbons.

 

Be a part of the 3rd Annual Old Getty Place Christmas Parade! Come light the great tree in the Lincoln Square and sing Christmas carols together to bring in the holiday season. At the parade, you will be able to enjoy a wide variety of bands, floats, costumed characters, distinguished guests, dancers, youth groups and, of course, good olí Santa Claus! The parade will take place in downtown Gettysburg. For more information, call 717-334-1515.

 

Come experience Emmitsburgís 24th annual "Evening of Christmas Spirit." There will be caroling on the Square at 6pm followed by the lighting of the town Christmas tree at 6:30pm. There will be hayrides, refreshments and entertainment at the Carriage House until 9pm. Celebrate Christmas at The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton with Candlelit Tours of Historic Homes, luminaries throughout the grounds, and festive music in the Basilica.

December 2nd

The Emmitsburg Community Chorus will host their annual Christmas Concert at the Basilica in Emmitsburg at 4pm. On the playlist for the concert is a list of Christmas favorites. "Lo How A Rose Eíer Blooming," Adolph Adamís "O Holy Night" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" are just a few of the traditional favorites that will be performed. On less traditional note will be "Itís A Swinging Christmas" and "Getting In the Mood." Some selections will feature soloists Betsy Graham, Mary Barrett-Friend, Chris Krietz, Felicia Albert, Cheryl Carney and Tom Steigerwald.

The chorus will also be performing some new selections that will surely become chorus favorites in future years. John Rutterís "Angelsí Carol" and "What Sweeter Music" are beautiful songs that present the Christmas story to the audience and leave a lasting impact on them. Lori True and Shirley Erena Murrayís "Dream A Dream" will be performed, incorporating the traditional "Dona Nobis Pacem," which encourages us to dream of hope, peace and the gift of Christ, the true reason for celebration during Christmas. The chorus will share their holiday music with Heartfields and Crumland Farms in along with a few other area concerts. The concert at the Basilica is free and open to the public, but a free will offering will be collected.

Music, Gettysburg! presents Advent Vespers, a holiday tradition of candlelit choral music, prayer, and meditation, led by the Schola Cantorum of Gettysburg. For more information, check out the Music, Gettysburg! website at musicgettysburg.org or call 717-338-3000 ext. 2197 for more information.

December 6th

Come on out to the 2nd Annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony with Mother Seton School at 10 am. Mother Seton Schoolís sixth and seventh grade students are excited to help the Shrine kick off the Christmas season with the ceremonial lighting of the Basilica Christmas tree. The tree will be decorated with their own hand-made ornaments. The students will also lead participants in Christmas carols. All are welcome to attend!

December 7th-9th

The Gettysburg Community Theatre presents Frosty The Snowman, a children's musical. Tickets are available online for $11 reserved seating. Go to www.GettysburgCommunityTheatre.org or call 717-334-2692. Performances will be held at the Gettysburg Community Theatre, located at 49 York Street.

December 7th

Celebrate many different cultural holidays through food, music, dance, children's activities, and more! Holiday Stories from Around the World is an event that is co-sponsored by the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County and the Office of Student Life and Multicultural Programs at HACC-Gettysburg. The event is free and open the public. For more information, call 717-334-9171, ext. 113, or visit www.ywcagettysburg.org.

December 8th

Christís Community Church Christmas Bazaar and St. Nicholas Workshop will be held at 303 W. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg. There are over 20 vendor spaces available. Free refreshments will be served, and kids get a picture with St. Nick and make gifts in the workshop. There is a suggested donation of $5 per child. For more information, visit www.cccaog.org or call 717-321-5522.

 

The Gettysburg Foundation presents a Fireside Tea, "St. Nicholas Tea." Children of all ages can sip hot chocolate with St. Nicholas as he describes a holiday celebration during the Civil War. The event will be at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and is hosted by the Gettysburg Foundation & National Park Service at 1195 Baltimore Pike. For more information, call 1-877-874-2478 or visit www.gettysburgfoundation.org.

The Frederick County Fire & Rescue Museum and the National Fire Heritage Center will be open to the public from noon to 5pm to participate in Toys for Tots, the United States Marine Corps Reserve program that collects toys for children whose parents cannot afford to buy them Christmas gifts. Representatives of the Marine Corps Reserve will be there to receive the toys. Light refreshments will be served.

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton will participate in Museums by Candlelight, a Frederick County-wide holiday program sponsored by The Tourism Council of Frederick County. The event will begin at 10am and conclude at 9pm. It will consist of a Christmas organ and sing-along concert in the Basilica of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at 5pm, and holiday music will be played every hour on the hour for 15 minutes in the Basilica. Everyone can make his or her own Christmas luminaries as a free craft, and the Shrineís grounds will glow with thousands of luminaries. Candlelit tours of the grounds will be offered.

December 8th-9th

The Gettysburg Civic Chorus Christmas Concert will help celebrate a half-century of music. The Gettysburg Civic Chorus, under the direction of Tom Kittinger and accompanied by Sharon Gattens, will present "A 50th Anniversary Christmas, These Are Special Times." The chorus has chosen to do two performances at the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary Chapel. The first will be on Saturday, December 8 at 7pm, and the second will be on Sunday, December 9 at 3pm. Due to the special anniversary of this season, a professional recording will be made at the Saturday evening concert. Sound Works of Hanover will be available at both concert performances to take CD orders. Cash, check or credit card will be accepted. A History of the Civic Chorus will be available, free of charge, to all members of the audience.

This is sure to be an outstanding performance by many talented musicians from throughout Gettysburg, Adams County and south central Pennsylvania. The concert is free and open to the public, but a goodwill offering will be taken.

December 10th

Mother Seton Schoolís annual Christmas pageant - all grades will take part in the pageant, performing traditional and contemporary Christmas songs under the accompaniment of the school band and chorus.

As you can see, our little town of Emmitsburg and the surrounding communities will be buzzing with holiday events for the whole family. So as youíre singing along to all of the Christmas carols, take the time to really listen to the lyrics and what they mean. As you open presents on Christmas morning, remember that you are celebrating the birth of Christ. As a community, letís rejuvenate the season and make this Christmas unforgettable. Have yourself a merry little Christmas, and I hope you have a holiday that is filled with the joy and love brought forth by the birth of Christ. After all, thatís what Christmas is all about.

Read other articles on the local arts scene by Kathryn Franke