A community-minded church nestled on Mount Airy's Main Street has found a secret to keeping enthusiasm for each year's Christmas celebration, even after Dec. 25, through bells, baby gifts and birthday cakes.
For the past six years, Calvary United Methodist Church has sponsored a Happy Birthday Jesus celebration on the Sunday after Christmas at the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services.
The tradition will continue Sunday, and the community is invited.
The Sunday after Christmas is "often seen as a let-down Sunday in the life of the church," said the Rev. Carol Yocum, pastor of Calvary UMC.
"It's my feeling that it is just the beginning of the Christmas season."
The Happy Birthday Jesus services are less formal than usual and are designed for the enjoyment for children, according to Ms. Yocum. In lieu of an adult sermon, they feature an extended children's sermon and a visit by one of the characters of Christmas.
She said this year's guest will be "Good King Wenceslaus."
Worshipers are encouraged to bring bells to ring during the Christmas music featured at the service.
Each of the services features a birthday cake complete with candles that the children in the congregation are invited to blow out after singing "Happy Birthday." The cake is served at the conclusion of each service.
These services also aid the work of Crisis Pregnancy Center, Ms. Yocum said. Worshipers have the option of bringing gifts to the celebrations for donation to the center.
Any new or nearly new baby item is appreciated including diapers, baby care products or clothing in infant sizes to 18 months, Ms. Yocum said.
"The focus is on new mothers who are often single and don't have many resources," she said.
* The Crisis Pregnancy Center of Frederick appreciates all donations for its mission to the community, which includes counseling, pregnancy testing, referral services, childbirth classes, and post-abortion counseling. The center also offers maternity clothes, and diapers, formula and other infant needs.
The center is going through a period of crisis due to lack of funding and volunteer help.
"The demand for our services has increased consistently 20 to 30 percent," said Leda Diaz, the director.
Ms. Diaz said the majority of the center's clients are adolescents.
In addition to baby items, the center desperately needs counselors, money, and continuing church support. For more information, call Frederick's Crisis Pregnancy Center at (301) 662-5300.
* Why travel far from home to bring in 1993 when Mount Airy's American Legion Post 191 is having a gala New Year's Eve Party for the enjoyment of the community?
The festivities begin at 7 p.m. with a roast beef and ham dinner that will feature a variety of side dishes. A cash bar will operate from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., to be followed by an open bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Dancing to the music of the Paul Wagner Band will begin at 8:30 p.m.
After midnight, light breakfast fare will be served.
The cost is $25 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit Post 191's many projects.
For information or reservations, call the post after 3 p.m. at (301) 829-9250.
The post is at 801 Prospect Road in Mount Airy.
* The next four-day holiday weekend will be a busy one for volunteers at the Mount Airy Fire Co.
On Dec. 31, the fire company is having its New Year's Eve Party at the Firemen's Activity Building on Twin Arch Road. The event will feature a buffet dinner and the music of the band Young Guns.
The affair was sold out, with a waiting list for tickets, as of Wednesday, said volunteer Gary Hubble.
The fire company volunteers have New Year's Day to rest before their annual banquet Jan. 2. This event features the installation of Mount Airy's fire company officers, an awards presentation and a dinner dance.
On Sunday the company will dedicate the new fire station at 2 p.m. The community is invited to attend. * As I've dashed around making last-minute preparations for the holidays, I have noticed something different about this holiday rush: Wishes for happy holidays, merry Christmases, and a happy 1993 seem to ring more genuine than in years past.
Strangers seem to have a few more smiles than usual and children of all ages seem to be counting their blessings along with the number of items on their Christmas lists.
I, too, would like to join the chorus of sincere wishes for a very Merry Christmas. Happy holidays to everyone!