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Entries in The Heart of Christmas (2)

Thursday
Nov102016

A Sneak Peek at Christmas

One Christmas Eve, my dad agreed to let my sisters and me sleep in the downstairs family room on our grandparents’ sleigh bed, the bed he put together each time my grandparents visited. They hadn’t arrived yet, so it was all ours. Once we were bathed and in our pajamas, we crawled into that magical bed. Full of giggles, we told stories until we fell asleep with the joyful anticipation that the next day was Christmas.

In the middle of the night, my younger sister woke us up. “Let’s go peek for presents,” she whispered.

As our bare feet hit the cold, unfinished floor, the fear of being caught gripped me. Huddled together we pushed forward, opening the door to the game room. The Christmas tree was still lit, its reflection twinkling on the floor. Soon, we were on our tummies, trying to get close to the festively wrapped presents under the tree, and looking for the tags with our names on them.

Suddenly, a bedroom door opened upstairs. We knew the heavy tread of our father’s footsteps as he came down the hall and neared the top of the steps. In a flash, we were on our feet, sliding back through the door, and jumping into bed as Dad came down the stairs. Our hearts were racing as we lay perfectly still, pretending to be asleep. I sneaked a peek at my dad. In his white robe, he practically glowed in the dark.

“There wouldn’t be anyone awake now and out of bed?” he asked. “I better not hear another sound.” And then he disappeared.

Christmas morning came as usual. After church and breakfast, it was finally time to gather together and unwrap the presents.

The anticipation while trying to fall asleep and then excitement over discovering what our parents had prepared for us were always part of the Christmas experience. In the same way, as you sit in the audience and the lights fall at the start of The Heart of Christmas program, a shared holiday excitement enters the room. The set is like a great expanse filled with presents as you sit in the darkened theater. Only once the music begins and the set lights up do you get to feast your senses on the holiday wonder that the cast, director, and crew of Charis Bible College have prepared for you.

Christmas music—both the familiar and the new—fills you with nostalgia as you enjoy a feeling of family within your own community. To experience this for yourself, go to www.HeartOfChristmas.org to order your tickets. Adult admission is $25, admission for children ages 5 to 11 is $15, and children under 5 (on an adult’s lap) are admitted for free.

Arrive a little early and enjoy Christmas festivities, photo opportunities with a professional photographer, and the beautiful property of The Sanctuary. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover what’s wrapped up in The Heart of Christmas for you!

Thursday
Nov032016

Shared Experience—It’s the Heart of Christmas

I was six years old the year I found a long, rectangular package with my name on it under the Christmas tree. The box was wrapped in candy cane-stamped, pine-green paper, and inside was a doll. She had caramel-colored hair, a white blouse, and a red, Scottish-plaid beanie and skirt. I named her Tammy.

After dinner and baths, I sat on the floor in pajamas with my little sister. My parents and older siblings were there too. The darkened room created a theater effect. The television played a movie about Heidi, her grandfather, and an ornery goat. Christmas lights twinkled off the surface of our shiny floor like stars reflecting on a lake. We passed around bowls of popcorn, and Tammy sat on my lap. Nothing can ever take away the sense of belonging I had in that moment. For me, family identity was formed on holidays, during our shared meals, or on game nights. Those shared experiences were embedded in me as a child, creating points of connection.

Last year I attended Charis Bible College’s original production The Heart of Christmas. My son and I went with several families from his school. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with my son, a familiar warmth rushed through my senses as soon as the lights fell.

The Heart of Christmas, an original play written by Adam Stone and Elizabeth and Robert Muren, focuses on a family who passes their Christmas traditions down through a book, as the world changes rapidly around each generation. The book is the story of a “fourth” wise man who becomes separated from the other three wise men. He spends his life looking for the Messiah, whom he missed the opportunity to honor as a babe in Bethlehem.

The stage of this multimedia play is divided into one set featuring a two-story house and one set that displays all the action that occurs outside of the home. The family’s living room takes on scenes from the past up to the present, while the main stage portrays scenes from the book. With stage changes, the main stage also becomes the historical site of world events. Background action and crowd scenes are projected onto large screens behind the set, giving the production a larger-than-life feel.

If you’re looking for a shared family experience, The Heart of Christmas will transport you and your loved ones to a magical moment where cherished memories are formed and holiday traditions are made. The early-bird price is $21 for adults, but be sure to order by November 9. After November 9, regular adult admission will be $25. Children from 5 to 11 years old are $15, and children under 5 (on an adult’s lap) are free.

Plan to come to Charis a little early that day to enjoy Christmas festivities, photo opportunities with a professional photographer, and Charis’s scenic mountain property, The Sanctuary. It’s a holiday experience you won’t want to miss.

Don’t forget: Early-bird prices will only last through November 9. Go to www.HeartOfChristmas.org and order your tickets today!