Celebrating season at home and away

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is a time for families to be together, to share in their love for each other, and to celebrate the birth of Christ. For some people, Christmas is a time is away from their home. I was privileged to be part of both experiences recently.

Columbiana United Methodist Church had a first this year. For the traditional “Hanging of the Greens” ceremony, Music director Mandy Smith directed The Living Light, a dramatic musical experience of the birth of Christ.

Worship chair Beth Hedrick asked my husband, Red, and me to be part of this beautiful event bringing gifts to the altar, symbolizing the Wise Men of Old. Stacy and Kevin Walkup shared this responsibility with us.

The glorious music of the Chancel Choir, its soloists, symphony instruments, piano and organ, filled the sanctuary. The altar setting was the manger in Bethlehem, and the actors told the story of Christ’s birth from the first person point of view.

Red and I sat with our daughter-in-law and toddler grandson in the pews after we brought our gifts to the altar. Our son was part of the Chancel Choir — a true family event.

As Robert sang his solo, O Holy Night, my eyes overflowed with tears for this is what the season is all about to me, the birth of Christ and family.

The next week I experienced a Christmas event that filled my heart with joy in a different, yet more poignant way. The Third District of the Alabama Federation of Women’s Clubs sponsored a Holiday Art Contest and gave a Christmas Party for 37 girls at the Chalkville Youth Services Home.

Culture Club President Judy Quick and I, a Vignette Club member, had gone earlier to judge the contest. We were blown away by the beauty of the paintings.

The girls, ages 13-19, will not go home for Christmas, and this party was their special celebration.

Judy began with a motivational speech, and then she and I presented certificates and prizes to the winners. The girls had waited a week to hear the results and cheered for each other as the winners placed the ribbons on their paintings with pride.

After decorating gingerbread men, refreshments were served. The girls were given numbers and, one by one, they went to a table full of gifts to choose from till the gifts were all gone. They all placed their gifts into hand made bags by women of the district. They could not believe the generosity.

Small groups of girls provided entertainment throughout the party. The last was an interpretive dance by two girls, dressed in red T-shirts and flowing white skirts, performed to a Christmas song. Not a sound was heard in the gym, all eyes were on these girls who poured their hearts into their dance. My eyes filled with tears at the beauty of this Christmas experience.

It is one I will never forget as two girls, who will not go home for Christmas, poured out their hearts through dance. They received a standing ovation from their peers.

Two Christmas experiences, one at home, one away, showed me the love of Christ at this season of His birth. My cup overfloweth.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by e–mail at