Keeping Christmas

December 8, 2016

“Uncle!” pleaded the nephew.”

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, the Women of Galilee keep Christmas in their own way—and they do keep it! Last Saturday, that meant a seasonal brunch with food, carols, and the message of grace and peace. It was an event organized by super volunteer Faye Vibbert.

“This is the third year we held our Christmas brunch,” says Faye. The way Faye tells it, the brunch has a somewhat Dickensian origin of past, present, and future: “The idea came from a small committee of ladies as we looked back into Galilee’s past and planned things for the future. We wanted to establish a regular event that celebrated our best holiday traditions.”

IMG_6228

The Rock Ridge Singers of Rock Ridge High School perform Christmas carols on Saturday.

“The brunch is a way to socialize and get into the Christmas spirit,” explains Faye. “The last two years we have invited local music groups to perform. This time we had a group led by our choir director, Jordan Markwood, who brought along some of his high school students to sing. They sounded fantastic. It’s my hope that we brought a little light and Christmas spirit to the women of Galilee.”

FullSizeRender 2

IMG_6221IMG_6223

Members of the Women of Galilee group celebrate the season.

Keeping Christmas has always been important to Faye and to the Vibbert family. Faye and her husband Bruce joined Galilee three years ago and have contributed much to our community. Bruce is an indefatigable volunteer when it comes to church maintenance and groundskeeping. He also sings as a tenor in the choir. You’ll often see Faye delivering the Children’s Message to the congregation’s youngsters (including her own grandchildren, Anya and Braiden) or working behind the scenes, as at the Christmas brunch.

“Bruce and I were raised similarly, but like mirror images. We grew up on opposite sides of Philadelphia, he in New Jersey and my family in King of Prussia,” says Faye. “Bruce was from a family of all boys, I grew up in a family of all girls. Even our houses were almost identical, the same 1950s model but oriented to the street differently. For Bruce, all of Santa’s gifts were wrapped, for me Santa’s gift was one unwrapped toy that appeared on Christmas morning.”

“Both our families were involved in church. They were Methodist, we were Presbyterian. Christmas and Easter were important events, but weekly church attendance was a big part of our lives, too.”

Bruce and Faye Vibbert

“Our Christmases as a family together became a continuation of our upbringing. We put up a tree (always real), we hung advent calendars, and advent candles graced the table. Our girls grew up Methodist and we started taking them to the 11pm candle light service in their pajamas. One year, our oldest (age about four) tapped a man on the back. He happened to be the CEO of Gerber, and she told him he should be in his pajamas.”

“One of my best memories of Christmas is the singing of “Silent Night.” Our church had a talented woman who sang the first verses in German, and then we sang in English. Another tradition was to open just one gift after the Christmas Eve service.”

“Life has taken us to many states and many Methodist churches. We arrived at Galilee almost three years ago, to follow our daughter and her family: Kristen and Ryan Jenkins, along with Anya and Braiden. This year we will attend Christmas Eve services, go over early to see the grandkids open presents, and eat way too much. But we will be ever mindful of the gift given to us on the first Christmas morning—a Christ child that would grow up to die for us, giving us the gift of everlasting life.”