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Sunday, December 25, 2022
Christmas on a Sunday? Some Locals Prefer Christmas Eve Service Anyway
Congregants arrive for midnight mass last night at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
Christmas fell on Sunday for the first time since 2016, and once again churches were balancing the reason for and the realities of the season. Local congregations this year opted for a variety of solutions: from the full range of weekend options to just one service, and it didn’t have to be on Sunday.
“For us, we wanted to have a service on the 23rd so that most of our church family could be together, and everyone can still spend time with their families over the weekend,” Rev. Max Southern, pastor of The Ville Church, said. But with miserably low temperatures and accompanying wind chills on Friday, the 15-minute candlelight service was moved to an online-only format.
Some congregations, such as First Church of Pentecost, which holds three regular services per week, took the weekend off altogether.
Christmas is often considered the second-most significant religious holiday, behind Easter, but many Protestants do not attend church services on Christmas Day when it falls on a weekday. Christmas on Sunday complicates the matter since many church-goers see the holiday as time for family first.
A Lifeway Research poll, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, reported that 84 percent of churches were holding services today, down from 89 percent in 2016. But that number with nondenominational evangelical churches was only 61 percent, The New York Times reported.
To many locals, Christmas Eve is the preferred time anyway. Melissa Gerline-Clagg has been attending the Christmas Eve service at First Christian Church with her family since she was a young child. The tradition continues now that she’s married and has her own family.
“My favorite part is the candlelight where we have all the lights turned out and sing, ‘Oh Holy Night,’” she said. “Christmas Eve service is my favorite service of the entire year.”
Jim Bullard, who has been attending Shelbyville Community Church with his wife, Chris, for about 18 years, also enjoys the Christmas Eve service tradition, which they celebrate with their son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Rhonda; granddaughter, Olivia; and Jim’s mother, Linda. Mr. Bullard said his favorite part of the service is when all attendees at the end hold glow sticks while singing ‘Silent Night.’
“But this year will be different due to the cold weather and (Linda’s) age,” Mr. Bullard said. “She will not be going with us, so we will go and get pizza from Cagney’s, as we always do, and take it to her house to eat.” They then drive around and look at Christmas lights.
Angie Trimnell, her husband, Roger, several relatives and even a few friends attended Victory Fellowship's candlelight service last night. The long-time Christmas Eve service veterans were looking forward to the church's first under pastors Nathanael and Jenny Saylor.
"The church my husband and I grew up in and attended before Victory Fellowship had a candlelight Christmas Eve service," Mrs. Trimnell said. "I looked forward to going every year. The flickering candles, traditional carols about the birth of Christ and the hushed atmosphere felt sacred and holy. It was a moment to truly reflect upon and praise God for the gift of his Son."
The family already participated in a candlelight communion service last Sunday. "I am thoroughly looking forward to tonight's service," she said yesterday. "We will quiet our hearts and put aside all the craziness and the commercialism that Christmas has become and worship Emmanuel: God is with us."
Family and faith have also long been at the heart of Cheryl (Lambert) Higdon’s Christmas Eve experience, and it’s all connected to Town and Country Christian Church. The church was started in 1973, and her family became members a year later.
“Growing up, we would go to my grandma’s, who lived on 5th Street, two houses down from me. We would have dinner, then most of us would go to Christmas Eve service,” Higdon said. After the mid-evening service, they returned to grandma’s for gifts and Bingo.
Yesterday, Higdon said she and her family - husband, Tate, and children Ethan and Chloe, were looking forward to the 5 p.m. service at Town and Country. Jacob Shively has led the church’s Christmas Eve program for perhaps the past decade and has been a part of the festivities for some 20 years. Last night’s order of service called for a narration of Jesus’ birth from different books of the Bible as well as songs.
The same theme was promised to St. Joseph parishioners, who hustled into the sanctuary before midnight mass, the snow-covered, frozen tundra a picture-perfect closure to another Christmas Eve and start of Christmas Day in the chapel, an unchanged tradition for them regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.
But some wanting a return to regularly scheduled services may have to wait. Rev. Southern noted that he missed seeing everyone this weekend, but looked forward “to being together on New Year’s Eve morning at 10 a.m.” That’s next Saturday. Sunday, after all, is New Year’s Day.
Yes, Kristiaan, there is a Santa Claus
ABOVE: Little Drummer Boy Kristiaan Rawlings bangs out some Christmas tunes on the drum kit Santa delivered in 1989.
Merry Christmas to all of you. Rarely has my column been published on Christmas day. I was planning on stopping by each of your homes personally and bringing you a fruitcake this year, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t in the budget. Remember what grandma always said, “It’s the thought that counts.”
A wave of nostalgia swept over me this week as I was thinking about the end of The Addison Times. If you have enjoyed my column, please send your email address to email@example.com. I will send you a few words now and then until I find a new home.
I invite you to take a few minutes to reminisce with me. Let’s begin with a letter from Kristiaan Rawlings when he was still in his youth, had hair, and desperately needed some advice.
My name is Kristiaan Rawlings. Some of the older kids in my neighborhood say there is no Santa Claus. My dad always says, “If you see it in The View From My Schwinn, it’s so.”
Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
When I read your letter, I thought that I heard the music from the Twilight Zone playing very faintly in the distance.
You see, in 1897, a little girl by the name of Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the editor of the New York Sun and asked the same question.
Unfortunately for that little girl, all she got was a rambling answer chock full of metaphors. The editor droned on and on about love, generosity, devotion and faith. According to The Sun, Santa Claus was a similar intangible that exists in the hearts of children.
Kristiaan, fear not. I won’t leave you, like poor little Virginia, without a straight answer to your question. Oh, I could explain Santa by using metaphors, an allegory or maybe even a fable featuring an owl and a sloth, but I won’t do that to you. I was a young boy not that long ago and I always hated it when adults gave me long-winded complicated answers to simple questions. In just a few years, I’m sure some well-meaning adult will mesmerize you with a most bizarre fable about the birds and the bees.
Anyway, remember, just because someone is older doesn’t necessarily make them smarter. Those neighborhood kids will probably grow up to be the kind of adults who fall for every grifter’s pitch. As adults, they will buy Hair-in-a-Can and watch infomercials. Adults always fall for every gimmick that claims to make them look younger. Adults watch Dionne Warwick’s “Psychic Friends” on TV and pay Miss Cleo $2.99 per minute for advice over the telephone. See, Kristiaan, you are already smarter than those adults. You wrote me for advice, and it won’t cost you one red cent.
I know there is a Santa Claus from personal experience. Over the years, Santa has been very good to me. Santa brought me a train set, a super ball and several toys made by Mattel, and that was just last year. Santa brought me a sled over 30 years ago, and it still works fine.
Take it from me, Kristiaan, yes there is a Santa Claus. Also, from personal experience, I don’t think Santa always checks his list twice.
BELOW: The Meltzer family Christmas card from the 20th century, approximately 30 years ago, left to right, Trent, Zane, Sandy and Kris Meltzer. LOWER: Family Christmas, 2022, left to right: June, Jenny, Rose, Trent, Kris, Pearl and Sandy.
Those looking to get off to a strong start on their New Year’s resolutions might be interested in two upcoming local 5k run/walk events, hosted by Energy2Action. The Rudolph Run, originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed to Saturday, Dec. 31, 9 a.m. at the Intelliplex Park; there’s also a free kids’ run at 8:30 a.m. Last year’s top male finisher from Shelbyville was DJ Higdon; the top local female finisher was Heather Proft. Details and online registration is available here. The annual New Year’s Day Fast Blast is set for 10 a.m. next Sunday at City Hall. Last year’s top local male finisher was Randy Witte. The top local female finisher was Cheyenne Coon. (A Shelbyville entry for “Father Time Wallace” finished 25th last year.) Details here.
HOOSIER NEWS: Paoli Peaks opened yesterday and is open today, with plans to remain open seven days a week with all lifts running through February. Last year, it was reported the resort was down to one or two lifts running a day. The tubing hill and midnight skiing were also closed all of last season. The resort had long lines, limited trails and didn’t open until mid-January, and then only for seven hours a day Thursday through Sunday. The pandemic, limited natural snow and warmer weather during Christmas time made last year challenging, company officials said. There’s much more optimism about this season. Perfect North Slopes, near Lawrenceburg, has been open since late November, although operations have been suspended the past three days due to the weather. The slopes will re-open tomorrow. (Indiana Public Media)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2002
It was the first white Christmas in Shelby County since 1995. A newspaper photo showed Cody Carr and Bill and Cindy Hunter with their snow innertubes tied together for a bumpy adventure down a steep hill at the Blue River Golf Course.
30 YEARS AGO: 1992
Mike Price, Josh West, Brian Harris and Mark Sinelais had passed out catapult toys they made in Bill Bastin’s manufacturing class at Triton Central High School to each Triton Elementary kindergartener as a Christmas gift.
40 YEARS AGO: 1982
Several Belaire Center stores announced a sale would be held starting Dec. 26. Participating stores included JC Penney, Paul Harris Budget, Danners, Lois’ Hallmark, Young World, Sports 44 and Gloria Marshall Figure Salon.
50 YEARS AGO: 1972
A stairway was built over what used to be the vehicle ramp at the old National Guard Armory on E. Washington St. The stairway would lead to the Girls Club area in the basement of the Civic Center. Extensive remodeling of the basement was supervised by Chuck Reynolds, who was giving up his vacation time to work on the project. Ernie Chandler did the electrical work for the project.
60 YEARS AGO: 1962
An empty house owned by Marvin Simpson was gutted by flames Christmas morning. Firemen speculated that an oil stove which was burning inside the structure probably became overheated and resulted in the blaze.
70 YEARS AGO: 1952
Shelbyville resident Robert C. Hale, 940 S. Tomkins St., was named the Indiana Welfare Administrator on a temporary basis by Gov.-elect George Craig. Hale had been a field-examiner for the bipartisan State Board of Accounts for 12 years.
George Thompson Lehman, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Lehman, was born on Christmas Day, 5 p.m., at Major Hospital.
80 YEARS AGO: 1942
The Shelbyville High School Golden Bears (6-1) had slipped into a tie for first place in the conference with Martinsville. Columbus, the only conference team holding a win over the Bears, was in third place. Franklin, which had lost by one point to Shelbyville in the most recent game, had yet to win. The Bears were off until Friday, Jan. 8, and would face Martinsville on Jan. 15.
90 YEARS AGO: 1932
The last day of school before Christmas (on Christmas Eve) had featured little learning, The Republican reported. “The students talked and giggled all through class periods and teachers, vainly trying to reprimand them, gave up the struggle and smiled from morn to evening.”
Letter to Santa (published as-is) - My Dear Santa Claus: I am a good little boy - 5 years old. Please bring me a 2-barrell shotgun, a slide horn and a drum major outfit. Also some p-nuts and oranges. Remember all the other requests if possible and many thanks for all you have previously brot me. Your friend, Eddie Mann
100 YEARS AGO: 1922
More than 21,000 letters had been mailed out of the Shelbyville Post Office the Friday before Christmas, The Republican reported. The local post office floor was cleared of mail on Christmas Eve. “The boys in the Federal building are deserving of an abundance of praise for their untiring efforts to please the public,” the paper said.