What a month! This past November did not have a week without a local art-related activity. This speaks to how much our community values the importance of art, of creative expression. I certainly did not expect this commitment when I first took this job; but from talking with some of you, and hearing your impetus for engaging in captivating art, I feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Gratitude is a hallmark emotion of the Christmas season, as well as feelings of inspiration.

This month, I would like to try something different. There are even more local art events which celebrate the spirit of the season, and I will give you all the background information needed for each one. But I would also like to give attention to events that are not art-related. Why? Even in these types of events, we can find the inspiration needed to create our own artwork, or reinvigorate the occasionally banal moments of our everyday lives. Whether you are an artist, or an everyday go-getter looking for local Christmas events for your own entertainment, this article is for you.

It would be unfair, however, if I did not congratulate the successes of the groups I spoke about last month. The Thurmont Thespians put on a widely loved rendition of God’s Favorite, and I’m grateful it was received so warmly. The Thespians put an incredible amount of effort into this show. They have an upcoming Christmas special as well! I will offer more details on that in the later part of the article.

The Mount Saint Mary’s Fall Showcase was also a huge hit, with university and non-university crowds alike. The three part event featured a night of grand opera, a wind ensemble concert, and the stage show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. If you would like a more in-depth look into this showcase, feel free to read my coverage of the event on the Emmitsburg Arts Scene website. You can find the URL at the end of the article!

For those of you looking for some art-related events to find the Christmas spirit, there’s no better place to start than A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Carol is arguably the go-to Christmas tale, the go-to Christmas work of art. There are other great ones, of course, but this is the Christmas story against which all others are compared. I read a commentary on Charles Dickens back at my old college, and I remember two interesting tidbits about A Christmas Carol that might interest you.

The first was that this story was written incredibly quickly, by the standards of other classical novels and novellas. For context, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read, took him five years to create. But A Christmas Carol? Only two months. Dickens began working on the manuscript in October, finished it in late November, and published it a week before Christmas. And speaking of publishing, Dickens received no financial help from his any of his publishers. They were skeptical of investing in this book, so Dickens wrote, edited and published A Christmas Carol all on his own.

If you’re interested in seeing A Christmas Carol during this month, apart from the 1951 Scrooge (which is the best film adaptation of the story), I would highly recommend heading to the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg. The Totem Pole Playhouse, the group responsible for this year’s showing, has been performing A Christmas Carol since 1987. They returned from hiatus last year, putting on a remarkable display of acting skill and dramatic tension. You can expect an absolutely excellent performance from this group.

There will be shows every day between December 10 and December 20. On the weekdays, and on Sundays, there is one showing at 2:00 pm. On the Fridays and Saturdays between these dates, shows begin at 8 pm. And on Saturday, the 19th, there will be two showings, one at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm respectively. Depending on your seating, ticket prices are $36, $32, and $30, and students receive special pricing of $20.

If you are looking for a different play besides A Christmas Carol, head on over to St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thurmont for the Sanders Family Christmas special, put on by the Thurmont Thespians. This play is a follow-up from the popular play Smoke on the Mountain, and what you will find in this one is play which incorporates Southern Gospel Christmas songs. I have not seen this play myself, but knowing the Thespians, you can expect this play to be worth your time.

The Thespians will be showing this exhibition during the first two weekends of December, the dates being the 4-6th and the 11-13th. Showtimes are 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2:00 pm on Sunday. The ticket price is standardized at $15, no reservation required!

St. John’s Church, additionally, has a harp concert scheduled, open to all, on Sunday December 20. Expect to hear some fantastic Christmas music performed by harpists Sally Lay and Elizabeth Allen. Best of all, it’s free for everyone. To those of you who don’t know, St. John’s Lutheran Church is located at 8619 Blacks Mills Road in Thurmont.

Another concert locally available is the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” event. Music director Elizabeth Schulze will be leading the orchestra, and welcoming special guests Candice Mowbray on guitar, the vocalist Raychel Harvey-Jones, Hagerstown Choral Arts and the Williamsport High School Choir for an evening of wonderful symphonies and music applicable to all. If you would like to attend this event, expect such highlights as White Christmas, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Gloria, and What Child is This. Ticket prices range between $10-$40 for adults, and all children under the age of 18 can attend for only $12. This event will take place on Saturday, December 12 at 7:00 pm, and December 13 at 3:00 pm, both of which will be held 30 West Washington Street in Hagerstown.

There are other Christmas events which could offer you all some much needed inspiration this time of year. Sticking with Thurmont for a moment, there is a whole Christmas extravaganza scheduled for Saturday, December 5 starting at 10:00 am. This is a fantastic event for the whole family; Santa will be stopping by, so make sure your children have their wish lists ready! This entire day has just about every single thing you would associate with a small town Christmas celebration: Santa, caroling, grand prizes, hot cider and cookies, and tree lightings. ESP Performing Company, located out of Thurmont, will also be putting on a show for attendees. It is a great way to celebrate with the community, and support local businesses who help put on the event.

If you are looking to mix up your regular routine around this time of year, why not stop by The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park & Museum in Waynesboro, PA? They will be celebrating the season in an interesting, educational, family friendly way. Take your children to an educational Christmas celebration, activities of which include children’s craft corner, Christmas storytelling, Victorian Era Christmas music, refreshments, and the history of Santa Claus. The whole museum will be decorated in the Victorian Era fashion of Christmas. Best of all, the event is free and open to the public!

Finally, if you are looking for Christmas liturgical services or events related in such a way, you will find many options around here. St. John’s Lutheran Church has two Christmas Eve services. The first is on the 24th of December at 5:00 pm, with a dinner that includes spiral ham, fried chicken, mac & cheese, and more following afterward. There is an additional Christmas Eve service at the Church at 7:00 pm. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown will offer four Masses on Christmas Eve – 4:30, 6:30, 8:00 and 11:00 pm. I hope that this variety of options to celebrate the Christmas season will help instill the feelings of inspiration and gratitude that this day brings. Merry Christmas everyone!