I enjoy the holidays and seeing people who I don't encounter in my daily or weekly activities, and this happened many times this past week. Plus, Lamont and I got to spend time with the five grandchildren on our three-day visit to the Columbus area.
At the first event, I got to see Irene Hajny Sabo, who was at the Jefferson County Farm Bureau Christmas Luncheon. Irene and I were close friends from the sixth grade all through high school and beyond. Work, children and other things keep us from seeing each other often, but it is wonderful when we do get together.
The luncheon was on my birthday, so Irene brought me a tray of cupcakes decorated in colorful Christmas designs. She also gave me a dozen of her wonderful dinner rolls that I plan to keep for Christmas. This decision was made after facing much temptation to dig in. I think yeast products are my favorite type of food, and these were shaped in what I think is called a twist - fancy shapes anyhow.
GIFT TIME — Ann Marie Grayzar, left, opens a Christmas gift while Amy Hajny, middle, and Lisa Cline watch. This was at the Jefferson County Farm Bureau Christmas luncheon and “trading” gift exchange.
-- Esther McCoy
OFFICERS — The slate of officers for the 2013 year were introduced at the Jefferson Ruritan Christmas dinner. They are, from left, Lester Grimes, secretary; Glen McLain, treasurer; Don Clarke, president; Robert Meyer, chaplain and board member; Warner Sanders, board member; and Fred Ramsey, board member and past secretary.
-- Esther McCoy
KEEP OR TRADE — Emilee Wood, seated, shows off her gift while Sherry Finney checks to see if she wants to trade for it.
-- Esther McCoy
LAVISH COSTUMES — Lavish costumes were part of the Living Christmas Tree pageant held at Grace Polaris Church in Worthington. Young girls who were attendants to the king who paid homage to baby Jesus were, from left, Sarah Myers, Jessie McCoy and Alize Raptou.
-- Esther McCoy
HAPPY HOLIDAYS — Orega Yanik holds up a reindeer yard decoration she received as her gift at the Jefferson County Farm Bureau luncheon.
-- Esther McCoy
Mary Ellen Grafton is always great with thought-rendering games.
She had a game with words meaning the same thing as Christmas carols, but they had to be deciphered.
Marian Houser, who was there as my guest; Karen Morroco; Janine Yeske and I managed to get them all. And honestly, although Marian and I were seated side by side, we did not cheat.
Lamont and I attended the Jefferson Ruritan Christmas dinner at the Hilltop Presbyterian Church next. We had not seen Lester and Kathy Grimes since working the concessions trailer at the Toronto Arts Festival, where I learned how to make a decent funnel cake after much instruction from Lester.
Don Clarke always keeps me on my toes. "We are going to get you to talk about spaghetti tonight" was his greeting as we entered the church social room.
Having forgotten what my food column was about that week, as I sometimes work ahead, I looked at him with a very blank look. "Don't you even know what you write about in your column?" he asked.
It was great seeing Ruby Grimes, Marge Burns and Phyllis Patterson as guests at the dinner. I don't see them very often either. And we sat beside Ann and Bill Bray.
Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday were filled with grandchildren activities in Lewis Center, Worthington and Columbus, and I got to see Jackson and Maggie as well.
We went to the Worthington Christian High School basketball game to see Amber cheer at Olentangy High School on Saturday. Cheerleaders have to be gymnasts, dancers and know how to project their voices these days. I am amazed at all they do. Some of the cheerleaders were doing back flips clear across the gymnasium.
Jessie cheers with the varsity squad, too. She made it in her sophomore year, but she was in the Living Christmas Tree pageant and had to be there instead. That is where we went Sunday afternoon.
That presentation amazes me each year, but I think that this, the Grace Polaris Church's 26th year, topped them all.
It was called "Brewed Awakening" about a Christian Teen Youth Group that operates a coffee shop of the same name being asked to take on the presentation of the church Christmas pageant.
Danny, a member of the church youth group, asks his friend, Josh, to help with the production, and it takes much coaxing to get him - a young man who thinks church people are weird - to become part of the presentation. At one point, Josh says, "I don't want to be part of the giving of Frankenstein, gold and fur."
As time goes by, there is a turn-around as Danny, who was raised a Christian, starts disbelieving and runs with the wrong crowd. Josh, the party animal, is going in the opposite direction and finding answers in the faith.
In act one, the youth show off the acts they think will find appeal in the pageant. There are children singing, dancing and then playing the bongos to "Jingle All the Way Medley." Jessie, her friend, Alize Raptou, and two other dancers performed a ballet number to "Angels We Heard on High."
There was a full orchestra of violins, piccolos, flutes, cymbals and other instruments playing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and the most impressive performance came from children, young people and adults in a scene reminiscent of "The Lion King."
There were three teens inside of and holding erect giraffe heads and swaying them coming down the aisle. Many people were holding up antelope figures and making them look as if they were galloping down the aisle. There also was a lion; a yak with two people inside, led around because it was having trouble seeing; and people holding large, beautiful butterflies, parrots and other exotic bird figures on sticks and swaying with them to the music of "Yesu Klisto is Born."
Jessie was called upon in two performances to be part of the herd of antelope and said the muscles in her arms were burning from lifting the figures up and down for so long. That portion of the act was absolutely beautiful.
A barbershop quartet auditioned and sang "Glory to God in the Highest," but some teens thought it to be too old- fashioned for the pageant.
In the talk between Danny and Annie, they realize that music is the universal language. The world would be very empty without it.
It is at this point that Danny tells Josh he wants to go to the college frat party, while Josh decides he doesn't want to do this type of scene anymore. Part of Danny's problem is that he never knew his father, a man who took no interest in his life. He decides that he doesn't want to play the part of Joseph in the pageant, and a frantic Josh tells him that the play is nothing without Joseph so he relents.
There is the scene where a pregnant Mary comes riding into the auditorium on a donkey, and they try to find room in the inn, to no avail. Then the night scene is when a baby's cry is heard, and the baby Jesus is born. Two live camels, with one having issues with the noise in the room, carry kings from afar, and a white horse carries in another king. Mary sings "Be Born in Me" and says that she will hold him in the beginning but he would hold her in the end.
Then the scene switches to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The stone is rolled away, and only the shroud remains. Jesus then appears and a magnificent scene with angels, people rejoicing and a bright light on the one who provides his own special light. The singing of "Great Day" concludes the scene.
At the end of the pageant, Danny learns that while he did not have a real dad to make proud with accomplishments in his youth, he did have a father in Jesus Christ.
Our last visit was to the Worthington Christian School on Monday night to view and hear the "Winter Choir and Strings Concert" with Amber and Jessie as part of the event.
Again, there was a magnificent orchestra combining students, alumni and teachers.
I was most impressed and terribly proud when Amber had a solo, one of only two with girls, where she sang "Gloria in Excelsis" and "Laudamus te" all in Latin. It was absolutely beautiful, and I don't know how she learned all those words.
Again, there was dancing, singing and playing instruments by students who receive wonderful guidance at the school.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)