Christmas is better in ‘Pageant years’
To the Editor:
Each year as Christmas approaches many of us celebrate the arrival of a great Light, the birth of Jesus Christ. In this darkest time in the calendar with its too-short days, we exuberantly light up the night — twinkly white lights and spectrums of color, a bright star glowing at the top of a tree, tidy modern LEDs and bulbous old-time incandescents, each one separately screwed into socket after socket.
The lights are fun and joyful, often playful and sometimes inspiring. They declare that Christmas is coming and that we’re unabashedly happy about it. But for me, Christmas is a different and more profound celebration of that Light in “Pageant years” – the odd-numbered years when the Swarthmore Pageant of the Nativity is held.
The Pageant is a gift to our community. It has been presented anonymously by local citizens every two years since 1937, except for a brief break during World War II. Why are “Pageant years” different for me? Because the Pageant is a contemplative representation of everything that matters to me: faith, hope, love, morality, honor, family and community.
On Pageant day, we set aside time to share a physical space with fellow community members where the room darkens and we all fall silent. Then together we let the Pageant wash over us, delivered with the same music, scripture, costumes and set each year since the 1930s. It is wonderfully constructed to convey meaning and inspire thoughts through words, music and light. Scripture readings speak to the intellect. Music speaks to the soul. And the illuminated tableaux speak to the heart which craves a simple, timeless story of inspiration.
I think Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right when he observed in his essay on Intellect that “God enters by a private door into every individual.” Once every two years, I come away feeling that the Pageant offers a unique opportunity to prop that door open for an hour, just to see what may come in.
This year, the Pageant will be held on Saturday, December 23, with performances at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The venue is Lang Hall on the college campus, which Swarthmore College graciously makes available to the community for this event. Ample free parking is nearby.
Each performance lasts about an hour, and includes five tableaux from the Old and New Testaments, along with scripture narrative and music from a volunteer choir. There is no admission charge. All who come in a spirit of reverence are welcome, although from long-ago personal experience I can say that it is best enjoyed by adults and children over the age of six. It is an hour well spent and perhaps you’ll find, as I do, that Christmas is better in these “Pageant years.”
Home for the Holidays. Photo by Andy Shelter
A team effort; a magical day
To the Editor:
The Swarthmore Home for the Holidays celebration took place on Saturday, December 2, all around the ‘Ville of Swarthmore. Hundreds of residents and visitors participated in various activities including a 5K Santa run, the last Farmers Market of the season, carriage rides, games and crafts, scavenger hunts, book signings and goodwill activities, which were hosted by our local merchants. The participants also enjoyed live music, local food and drink and a special performance by Jeannine Osayande & Dunya Performing Arts at the Inn at Swarthmore. Plus, Santa came to town via SEPTA train and then a fire truck and the Dunya drummers led a parade through town. The Swarthmore United Methodist Church conducted a tree lighting and community sing along. Hot chocolate ended the day at the Swarthmore Fire House.
The day was action packed and a good time was had by all. We were able to host more activities than in years past, and we could not have done that without our wonderful volunteers, who traveled from near and far to spend the day with our town, making each activity and event run smoothly, and be truly enjoyable.
On behalf of the Swarthmore Town Center Board, I would like to sincerely thank all our committee members and volunteers for giving their time, energy and talent to make Home for the Holidays a success. Whether you signed up to help on the day of, or worked on details for the last few months, your help was invaluable and greatly appreciated.
For those who would like to get involved in the future, we welcome you with open arms. After I left the corporate world this past winter, what I missed was being on a team. Volunteering for Swarthmore Town Center and the Swarthmore Farmers Market has certainly filled any void I had regarding my desire to be part of a team. Volunteerism connects us with others and provides meaning and purpose in our lives. The people I have met and worked with this year in Swarthmore are some of the most creative, kind, hardworking, and dedicated people I have crossed paths with in my career. I encourage anyone interested in continuing to help make our small town great to get involved in any way you can.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller
Swarthmore Town Center Board Member
Swarthmore CO-OP Equity Campaign lifts off
To the Editor:
By now, you must have noticed the colorful balloons taped to the CO-OP’s windows. Each balloon represents an owner who chose to invest in the CO-OP by raising their equity stake. The large banner at the entrance tracks the total owner investments, currently at about $35,000, against the campaign goal of $150,000.
The $150,000 campaign goal is not arbitrary or a “would be nice”; it is mission-critical funding for the CO-OP’s continuing operations in 2018 while the plan for profitability is being implemented. Our current GM has brought the CO-OP a long way in the 11 months that he’s been on the job, largely by reorganizing and cost cutting. But when the large oven that is used by the prepared foods, catering and deli departments broke, as happened a few weeks ago, it represents a major setback. This was only one on a long list of unanticipated expenses; this is why the CO-OP needs working capital and a cash reserve.
Make no mistake: raising your equity stake in the CO-OP is not a donation or gift – it is an investment in the CO-OP’s future. If you raise your equity by $1,000, you receive an additional 200 shares. There also is no one else to appeal to – no corporate deep pocket, no endowment, no governmental largesse. Like the Swarthmorean you are reading, the CO-OP enriches the community and makes living here such a unique experience. The CO-OP is of the community and for the community, and therefore it is up to us to support it.
Lest we forget the role the CO-OP plays in our lives, here is a fun fact: total online orders for local, farm-fresh Howe Farm turkeys this Thanksgiving exceeded four tons! 8,300 pounds of turkey to be exact. And Mike and his staff stand ready again to accept and prepare your online holiday orders – whether prime beef, oysters, lobster tails or caviar – with care and a smile.
Before the year ends, please take a moment to join if you are not an owner, or to “up your equity” if you are. The process is simple: ask one of the cashiers in the store, make your commitment, and your balloon will be added to the window. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time with your support commitment.
Without your support, there won’t be a CO-OP. So, thank you for adding your balloon!
Member, Board of Directors of the Swarthmore CO-OP
The Turkey Trotters photographed by Angus Shieh.
Thanks, Turkey Trotters
To the Editor:
On a beautiful Thanksgiving morning, over 360 Turkey Trotters gathered for the Inaugural Delco Turkey Trot. We would like to thank all of the participants, volunteers and sponsors for making this event such a success.
The money raised will go to the Nether Providence Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, which helps to provide additional funds and programs to the school.
Thank you again, WSSD community, for your support. We look forward to seeing you next Thanksgiving!
The Delco Turkey Trot Organizers