I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! There are a number of ways to celebrate the holiday, and the medium of art is one of many options. One of my favorite Norman Rockwell paintings is a depiction of Thanksgiving, called Freedom from Want.

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The freedom from desire for anything but those we love is a theme that carries into December as well. Last month, I shared a series of family-friendly activities to bring us all together. The events at the Mount were a smashing success, in this regard. A number of families came out for the Lab Band Concert, Iphigenia and Other Daughters was well received by those who attended, and even the opera night had a high turnout! This exemplifies just how much we care about spending the holidays with those we love.

Rockwell painted various portraits of Santa in his lifetime as well. He is one of many examples of an artist who valued the beauty of celebrating the holidays. With the success of last month’s events, and the importance of spending time with those we hold dear, this month’s article will spotlight events which celebrate the joy and familial nature of the Christmas season. Let’s use this month to inspire ourselves, our families, and the community at large!

First, there is the annual Christmas in Thurmont event on December 3. There is a lot to do on this Saturday! Vickie Grinder, head of Main Street events in Thurmont, says that the purpose of the event is to, “Encourage a spirit of community and giving, and also to encourage our community to support local businesses.” There are plenty of ways to participate in this Christmas celebration that achieve this goal.

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The day will start with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 AM, with Santa and Mrs. Claus generously taking time out of their hectic December schedules to touch down in town! There will be cookies and hot chocolate, and opportunities to take pictures with the Clauses from 10 AM – 12:45 PM, and 2:15 – 3 PM. Between 12:45 and 2:15, Santa will be busy reading Christmas stories at the Thurmont Regional Library. There will be performances by ESP Productions throughout the day, the Catoctin Lab Band will play at 4 PM, and will also include a business map stamping activity for adults, which will take place between 10 AM – 3 PM. The Lighting of the Lions Club Remembrance Tree will take place at 4:30 PM, and Prize Drawings at 5 PM.

You may have heard of this annual event before, and know what to expect, but there is a new feature to this year’s Christmas kickoff. Horse and carriage rides will be available from 11 AM – 9 PM, with ticket prices set at $10.00 a rider, and children under the age of 5 are free. A scenic ride through the Community Park and the downtown Main Street area is a beautiful and unique way to start off the holiday season! Call the Town Office at (301) 271-7313 to schedule your ride time in advance. If you cannot attend on the 3rd, there is always the Festival of Trees and Gingerbread Displays at the Main Street Center, which will be up between December 3 and December 31.

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If you’re looking for something traditional, there is always the Candlelight Christmas Concert at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Taneytown. This is the seventh annual Christmas concert, and if you have attended this before, you are well aware of how special this day is. At 3 PM, in the historic church sanctuary, Cathy Elkiss will be directing a concert you will certainly not want to miss. It will feature choral holiday music that will feature the voices and soloists of the Church’s Luther Choir, the Trinity JuBELLation Handbell Choir, the Taneytown Community Christmas Festival Choir, and several guest musicians. These include the violinists Ryan Dunford and Dale Elkiss, cellist Danielle Karppala, and clarinetist David Duree. What is special about this concert is its setting, with the music beautifully catered toward the candlelit, stained-glass sanctuary of the Trinity Lutheran Church.

Following the concert, there will be a reception for all attendees that is intended to, “Promote a time of friendship, fellowship and sharing.” If this concert is not already a part of your regular Christmas celebrations, there is another incentive this year, the first annual Merry Market. This will take place before, during and after the concert, from 11 AM – 6 PM in the Trinity Lutheran Fellowship Hall. There will be a variety of craft vendors offering some truly special gift options for those who attend, hosted by The Red Door Boutique. If you’re beginning your search for a perfect Christmas present, there are plenty of options at the Merry Market.

The concert and reception are both free, and do not require pre-arranged tickets from the Church. There is handicapped-accessible parking at the Church, and plenty of space available for everyone else! If it’s possible guests are also encouraged to bring a canned-good to be donated to the Taneytown Caring and Sharing Food Band, to promote the spirit of the season for those living below their means. Another great reminder of the good-will of the season and the residents!

There are opportunities to celebrate Christmas in Emmitsburg, too. Before heading off to the Christmas in Thurmont celebration, why not first attend Mother Seton School’s Breakfast with Santa? Santa will be there, stopping in for pictures and good cheer before spending the rest of the day in Thurmont. The Breakfast with Santa features a delicious pancake breakfast, which is $7.00 for children and adults 7 years and up, $5.00 for children 3-6, and completely free for those under the age of 2. After breakfast, head on over to the Christmas Bazaar to shop the local vendors and crafters to get an extra head-start on that perfect holiday gift. And, best of all, the Bazaar is free!

If you attended the Trinity Lutheran Church’s Christmas concert on the 11th, there will be another concert held in Emmitsburg at the Mother Seton School. On December 19, come celebrate the beauty of the season with choral performances by the Mother Seton School Chorus, who have been practicing diligently for this show. Individual classes from the school will also be performing, and so will Mother Seton School’s award-winning band. Be sure to stay and visit for the student-produced Christmas play as well! If you would like more information on this festive day, call the Mother Seton School at (301) 447-3161 or visit the school’s website at http://www.mothersetonschool.org for additional information.

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And, like many years before it, if you are searching for a family-friendly showing of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, then the Totem Pole Playhouse has a classical, highly-praised rendition of the famous story. Like last year, A Christmas Carol is produced in association with the Gettysburg Community Theater, and tickets are available for the showing at the Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater Box Office right now! The show will take place between December 8th and December 18th, and is one of the best ways to feel the spirit of the season. On the following dates, there will be an 8 PM showing: December 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and the 17th. There will also be a 2 PM matinee on the following dates: December 10, 11, 14, 15, 17 and 18th. Ticket prices range from $30-36, but if you’re a Totem Pole Playhouse subscriber, you can save $10 on admission! Tickets can be purchased on the Gettysburg Majestic Theater’s website, at http://www.gettysburgmajestic.org, in person at 25 Carlisle Street in Gettysburg, or by phone at (717) 337-8200. Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a very happy holiday.

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