The season of lights and pageantry, the season of family and friends, of children and good stories: it's the holidays!
Today, I'll share a little bit of Ellicott City's holiday season with you. The "lights" will be provided by Turf Valley Overlook Homeowners Association, a foundling community group less than 1 year old, as reported by association member Barbara Dudzinski.
Nancy Lassiter of the community association organized Turf Valley's first luminaria light display. She went to the various home builders who started the community and solicited their help in buying the luminaria.
Their generosity will help all eight miles of streets and cul-de-sacs to come alive with lights at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, recalling an old Mexican Christmas tradition.
The luminarias will stay lighted until 11:30 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The Social Committee, consisting of Karen Cooper, Evelyn Kuttler, Claire Broglia and Janice Cernatori, planned other Christmas events for the community.
On Saturday, the children shared snacks with Santa Claus at a neighborhood Christmas party and yesterday, the Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department provided fire trucks and took Santa through the neighborhood.
Santa collected donations, which he gave back to the Fire Department to help the county's needy families.
Earlier, the young association fought an effective battle to save St. Mary's Cemetery and landscaped some barren open space. A Halloween parade held in Turf Valley Overlook in October drew more than 200 people when only a handful of children were expected.
Organizers were surprised by the enthusiasm with which people responded to the simple activity, and although the Social Committee did not run out of punch and cookies, they will plan for more participation next time.
As long as you're viewing luminarias on Christmas Eve, don'forget to stop by Font Hill, where the lights have been displayed every Christmas Eve for 24 years.
Holiday pageantry will be provided by Rockland United Methodist Church's Sunday school department, which made its
first attempt at the creation of a youth choir in a Christmas event on Sunday, Dec. 13.
After a fellowship hour and dinner, the congregation's children shared a birthday cake for Baby Jesus and enjoyed a visit from Santa.
Then, the children involved in the Christmas pageant made a procession in the church, Mary and Joseph first, followed by the new Youth Choir. During the service, the children acted out the story of Christmas while adult musicians Jim Leatherwood played the guitar, and choir director Irma Wissinger played the piano.
Becky Punte, a church parent who is interested in teaching the deaf, led the children in singing "The Little Drummer Boy" while they interpreted the words in sign language.
Punte deserves kudos for all the time she spent designing and sewing costumes and choir robes for all the children involved.
Her parents, Jonesie and Everett Ramsburg, deserve credit for tolerating the costume industry that took over the dining room.
The Dec. 13 performance was so successful that the pageant held an encore performance yesterday during the regular church service at 10:40 a.m.
Many Ellicott City churches performed this holiday classic this year. Congratulations to all children who successfully gave this performance for the delight of their adoring elders.
During this holiday season, "family" reminds my relations of our grandfather, longtime Ellicott City booster Harry Lee Ramsburg.
"Lee" -- he hated to be called "Harry" -- was a member of the Rotary Club, the YMCA, and many other area associations, founder of several businesses, resident of Columbia Road and then of The Oaks.
Lee died in July at the age of 98. Our family and friends will really miss seeing him this Christmas.
This year, "friends" are Tom and Nancy Britcher and sons Stephen and Jarrod, who nearly four years ago left Ellicott Hills on Rogers Avenue to follow Tom's business in Missouri.
This summer the rumor was that the Britchers were moving back to the area. After much looking at all the metropolitan Baltimore communities, the Britchers chose to return to Ellicott City, where they have just settled in Woodmark.
Welcome back to the block, old friends.
The season's "children" of Worthington Elementary School wilgive a holiday concert for the community at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Howard High School Auditorium.
The school chorus, band and string ensemble will perform.
Denise Perry, band teacher; Naomi Liang, string teacher; and Karen Randall, chorus teacher, will lead the children through many holiday favorites.
A surprise will be a take-off on popular music, the Elves' Rap, entitled "Santa's Job is a Snap."
If you need more information, call the school at 313-2865.
Finally, what would Christmas be without a story? One I have been reading with my 9-year-old Sam is Louise Moeri's "Star Mother's Youngest Child."
Ms. Moeri tells the story of a lonely and crotchety old woman who had outlived all her own family, and had been forgotten by the villagers who lived nearby.