Christmas! The gifts are wrapped, the cookies baked, the lights are strung, and the stockings are ready to be hung. Finally it's time to remember why we celebrate this season and to get on with the festivities.
We are fortunate to have a legion of churches in Western Howard County.
At Gethsemane Baptist Church in Glenwood, there will be a Christmas Eve candlelight service at 8 p.m. The church members invite our community to attend. Phone 442-5853.
St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville will offer Masses in the church and in the school auditorium at 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and at midnight in the church only. The Masses at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and midnight each will be preceded by a carol service starting half an hour beforehand. On Christmas Day, there will be Masses at 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m., and 11 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. in the church and at 11 a.m. in the chapel. Phone 531-6040.
At Shepherd of the Glen Lutheran Church in Glenwood, you may attend a Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Celebration at 7:30 p.m. The worship service will include carols. You may bring a gift of hats, socks or mittens for the needy. Phone 442-1204.
Glenelg United Methodist Church in Glenelg will hold a 6:30 p.m. family candlelight service and a 10:30 p.m. meditation, featuring the adult handbell choir. At 11 p.m. church members will celebrate the service of Nine Lessons and Carols with Communion. Phone 489-7260.
The congregation of Lisbon United Methodist Church in Lisbon will have candlelight services at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Phone 489-7245.
At Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church in Clarksville, there will be a Christmas Eve family service at 7 p.m., featuring organ music, the Ring-a-lings Children Choir, and soloist Sara Shaw. At the 11 p.m. candlelight service, there will be organ music, the Chancel Choir, the Handbell Choir, soloists, a guitarist and carols. Phone: 531-5653.
The congregation of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, worshiping Union Chapel in Glenwood, will hold Christmas Eve services at 4 p.m. with a children's pageant and Holy Eucharist. At 10 p.m. those gathered will sing Christmas carols, followed by the Festival of Holy Eucharist and a sermon by Vicar Harry Brunett. They will enjoy coffee in the new addition after the services. Phone 489-4035.
Gazing at a beautiful Christmas tree is such a pleasure. Before Christmas we surely don't want to think about taking our trees down. Once the holidays are over, however, we must decide what to do with a tired old Christmas tree.
Here's a good idea. Some responsible Glenwood Middle School seventh-graders are concerned with how our discarded Christmas trees choke landfills. The students are offering to turn your tree into mulch free of charge.
Just take your tree to Glenwood Middle School between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Jan. 7 or between 9 a.m. and noon Jan. 8.
You can take home some mulch, which will be ready for your garden by spring. Glenwood Gardens Garden Center is donating the mulching machine, and the students are providing the labor as a community service.
By having your tree mulched, you will be helping to save space in the landfill.
L Information: Donna Duke at Glenwood Middle School, 313-5520.
The next time you attend the Lisbon Fire Department breakfast, say congratulations to James Edward Heller of Lisbon, the new director of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.
Mr. Heller, who attends the breakfasts on the second Sunday of each month, was appointed to his post by County Executive Charles I. Ecker Dec. 15. He is well known in the Howard County fire service circles because he's been in the system for a long time.
Varsity cheerleaders from Glenelg High School are excited about Christmas, but they're even more excited about their trip to Dallas. For the last several years, the varsity cheerleading squad has qualified to compete in the National Cheerleading Championships.
The last time a Glenelg squad went to a championship was in 1986. This year they are going again. The squad qualified at the National Cheerleaders Association summer camp, and they have raised money and practiced for months. They leave Dec. 26 to join more than 7,000 cheerleaders and hundreds of squads in the competition at the Dallas Convention Center.
Coach JoAnne Horan says that being able to represent the school in Dallas is a dream come true for the girls. Only three other squads from Maryland will attend the championships this year. Our local cheerleaders will compete Monday, and anyone who has seen the enthusiasm and spirit of this squad knows they will do well.
Clarice Counts of Clarksville was recently elected president of Chapter 559, the Howard County chapter, of the American Association of Retired Persons.
Members and others are invited to the Jan. 11 meeting of the chapter that takes place at 1 p.m. at the Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia.
Dr. Neal Barnard, the national president of the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, will lecture on "Research Taxes -- Cures or Fraud?"
This open meeting is free, and you will hear some controversial words on how your tax dollars are spent on science research. Call Ms. Counts at 531-6686 for more information about the AARP or the Jan. 11 meeting.
Ana Martinez and Kelly Lorsong, of West Friendship, have been studying hard this semester.
Ana, who is a junior at Mount de Sales Academy and Kelly, a sophomore, both made the Principal's List for the first quarter. Students must have a grade point average of 3.5 to 3.74 to be named.
Barbara King, music supervisor of Howard County Public Schools, announced recently that the Howard County High School Gifted and Talented Orchestra will rehearse in January in preparation for a public performance Feb. 5.
Under the direction of nationally known guest conductor Peter Sacco, the group will have an intense weekend of rehearsals Feb. 3-5. Mr. Sacco is the founder and music director of the Connecticut Orchestra and the assistant conductor of the New Haven Orchestra. He is also an associate professor of music at Connecticut College.
Talented students from Western Howard County auditioned for chairs in the Howard County High School Gifted and Talented Orchestra in early November.
Five Glenelg High School musicians were awarded chairs. Violinists Kolja Alterman, Joanna Lin and Tonnie Warfield, and cellists Alison Mundy and Michael Stup will add their artistry to the orchestra.
Students in the orchestra have already started to prepare their music. January rehearsals will be under the direction of Kathy Cammarata and Jack Schwalm, orchestra and band directors respectively at Centennial High School.
My family joins me in wishing you a very merry Christmas.