Tree-Lighting Illuminates the Best of the Christmas Season
By Janet Mitchell
PTF Publicity Chair
In the frenzy of the holiday season, it is often the simple things that remind us that the true meaning of the season is in experiences, not in the mall . . . it is in watching your child look up and smile at Santa as they sit in his lap and explain in specific detail what their Christmas wish is all about. It is in hearing the excitement in children’s voices as they sing Christmas carols. It is in a tree-lighting ceremony that leaves the audience in awe at the beauty of the tree against the black night sky. This is the magic captured at the St. Margaret’s PTF Christmas Tree-Lighting.
The third annual Christmas Tree Lighting was on December 8 in the Fountain Courtyard. This annual tradition marks the beginning of each holiday season, and it is an event that many at St. Margaret’s call their favorite of the year. It begins with a traditional Advent dinner in Sillers Hall held by St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, which brings the church family and the school community together to enjoy this special evening. This year, Mrs. Susan Remsburg was honored for her 30 years of service to the school. Some of her family members were there to celebrate her commitment to the school, including her grandchildren, who will see her a lot more often in her retirement!
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As families entered the Fountain Courtyard for the Tree-Lighting, the 20-foot Christmas tree was hard to miss. Adorned with over 1,600 ornaments, and topped with a two-foot shining star, it was a great reminder of why we had all gathered. There were cookies baked by parent volunteers (coordinated by a PTF committee chaired by Lee and Rick Gammell), and hot cocoa for the children and the parents to enjoy.
After an introduction by Headmaster Marcus D. Hurlbut, Father Doran Tregarthen stood in front of the Christmas tree and told a beautiful heartwarming Christmas story to the school community. After the story, Santa made a grand entrance and sat in his big purple chair, ready to take orders from the many guests who lined up for a visit. The sounds of people mingling tapered down to a whisper as the chilly night air was suddenly filled with the beautiful voices of the high school Choir, led by Choir Director Stacy Wentzel and accompanied by Wendy Neiman on the piano.
Choir Director Diane Hawkins led our Jr. and Sr. Pipers Choir in a beautiful array of Christmas songs, beginning with “Preparing the Way of the Lord,” and “Silent Night,” which was sung in both English and Spanish. They finished with the holiday favorite, “We wish you a merry Christmas,” and playfully wished the audience a merry Christmas in their sweet voices. They were followed by the High School choir for the finale of “Silent Night,” “Hark the Herald Angels” and the timeless favorite, “Jingle Bells.”
Every person who attended helped make this wonderful, heartfelt evening even more special. Many thanks go to Lee Gammell and her volunteers, who provided the baked goods; and to Alvaro, Edgar and Jorge Barriga, who labored to erect the magnificent Christmas tree. Thanks also go to the Highlander Chorale for joining the festivities; the precious Lower School Pipers; Wendy Neiman, the pianist who accompanied them; to Diane Hawkins for her dedication to music and the children; and to PTF Office Manager Beth Adamany and parent volunteer Kelly Collier for their support.