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Christmas School students concentrate on gluing, painting and coloring a nativity-themed craft Tuesday.
The annual five-day school, held at Christ Lutheran Church in Carey, wrapped up with a special program Friday.
(Photo by Jeannie Wiley Wolf)

Findlay Courier
Tots unwrap true meaning of Christmas
Sat. Dec 9th, 2017
By Jeannie Wiley Wolf

CAREY — The tradition of Christmas School is alive and well in Carey.

This year marked the 44th year for the annual five-day event meant to teach preschoolers about the true meaning of Christmas.

“I inherited this,” said the Rev. William Schultz, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church which hosts Christmas School each year. “When I came to serve here back in 2011, I was informed about this so I was involved from the beginning. And just over the course of time, it’s grown to be something really amazing.”

The free program takes place the first week of December. The goal is to help 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds focus on and celebrate Jesus’s birth through Bible lessons, songs and crafts, said director Leslie Williams. This year’s theme was “Make a Joyful Noise.” About 35 children attended, some coming from Seneca and Hancock counties, as well as Wyandot County. That number was down from previous years, Williams noted.

“There’s more preschool classes this year. And there used to be a preschool that met at the church, but it’s not there any longer. They would shut down for the week so all those kids would come to Christmas School,” she said. “But still, 35 is a good number.”

Many adults who live in Carey have personal recollections of time spent at Christmas School, added Schultz.

“A lot of the people who are here helping came to Christmas School,” he said. “It’s a tradition, and that’s what’s really neat.”

Christmas School in Carey began in 1973. An article from that year’s Progressor Times newspaper described the new program as an interfaith Christmas school for children ages 4 and 5, to teach them the story of Christmas. Little has changed through the years, other than opening up the event to include 3-year-olds.

A native of Carey, Williams now lives in New Riegel. Her older children attended Christmas School; her youngest son is nearly 3.

Throughout the week, the children wore a different color paper crown — red, green, gold, purple, pink and blue — depending on which classroom they were assigned. They also wore name tags that resemble wooden bell necklaces.

First thing each morning, all of the children came together in the sanctuary, where different pastors in town took turns delivering a Christmas message. Schultz talked to the students on Monday, while Pastor Philip Littlejohn of Parkview Assembly of God brought a wrapped gift when he spoke to the children Tuesday.

“Isn’t this a birthday party? Did you bring a present?,” Littlejohn asked the students.

He told the children that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’s birthday.

“Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. They were going to have a baby,” Littlejohn said. “This baby was very, very, very, very special.”

“God loved us,” he explained. “And He wanted to give us a present, and that present was Jesus. Jesus was a gift to all of us.”

It turned out the gift Littlejohn had brought was a box full of suckers for the children to enjoy later.

“Suckers are really sweet, right?,” asked Littlejohn. “And Jesus was a gift to us. It was a pretty sweet thing, don’t you think?”

Then he asked the children what might make a good present to give to Jesus.

“A train,” suggested one little boy.

“A dinosaur robot,” called another child, prompting laughter from the volunteers.

“I think the greatest present you could give to Jesus for Christmas is you, your heart, that would make Jesus happy,” said Littlejohn.

Other pastors who participated were Joe Turner of Lighthouse Pentecostal Church of God, Brother Ian Bremar from Our Lady of Consolation and Karen Rogers from Memorial and Grace United Methodist churches.

Each day, the children also practiced the songs they would sing for a final program held Friday, including “Mary’s Baby,” sung to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush,” and “Angel Band.” In the song “All of the Animals,” the children mimicked the sounds of ducks quacking, bees buzzing, pigs oinking and cows mooing. “Away in a Manger” and “Jingle, Jingle, Jingle” were also part of their repertoire.

After the gathering, half of the children spent time in the craft room and the rest had a snack. Tuesday’s project involved making a nativity scene out of a brown paper bag. The children squirted glue into the bottom of the bag and added pieces of straw. Then they fashioned a baby Jesus figure out of a clothespin wrapped in blue flannel.

“And since our theme is ‘Make a Joyful Noise,’ lots of jingle bells,” said Williams.

When everyone had finished their craft and snack, the children returned to their classrooms where they made another craft, practiced their songs again, colored pictures and learned more about the nativity through the use of a flannel board.

Williams said the school is run through donations from local businesses.

“We send out letters in November and they are more than generous to give donations,” she said.

Schultz said he’s glad to be a part of the program.

“Every year we have these little ones running around for this first week. I have three children of my own, all grown, no grandchildren, yet. This is the way for Pastor Bill to just have fun with kids,” he said.

Read this and other articles at The Courier

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