As the Spirit Singers counted down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…campus burst into the warm glow of thousands of Christmas lights. The little orbs of red, green, and white shimmered in the evening night as students, faculty, staff, and their families sang along to favorite Christmas carols at the 2017 Christmas Lights Celebration.
This year’s festive theme “Christmas at Home” reminded the audience of the cozy warmth of Christmas with loved ones. For Spirit Singer Jonathan Valentin (Jr., IL) the theme reiterated his own feelings about the holiday: “Christmas with my family has become the greatest present I could get each Christmas. I don’t really care about gifts, but getting to be with my family—this defines a Christmas for me.”
Christmas Lights Concert Director, Lauri Lou Jones, added a few special touches this year to give the evening a “home-y” feel. “The snow drop is always what I find the most magical,” she said. “It gets me any year it’s done! We had five snow machines this year—so let it snow!”
Aside from snow, the concert also included a gift giveaway. As the Symphonic Band played “Carol of the Bells,” the Spirit Singers handed out Eagor the Eagle stuffed animals to students and children.
The evening also included special appearances from favorite groups on campus including One Accord singing “Mary, Did You Know?” and a faculty ensemble singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
Many faculty participated in a comical skit called “The Twelve Dates of Christmas,” a quest for true love. As speech faculty Lauren Zacharias awaited her “true love,” Dr. John Reese conducted a faculty choir singing their rendition of the favorite carol. Awkward (yet hilarious) dates included revealing the identity of Eagor the Eagle, proposing on a second date, and texting while crossing the street.
As the concert came to a close, the frivolity turned toward a more thoughtful tone as President Shoemaker took the stage while holding his grandson. He reminded the audience that Jesus chose to leave his home on Christmas so that the world could one day have a home in heaven.
Freshman Matthew McIntyre (GA) enjoyed participating in Christmas Lights for the first time, but in the end, he left reflecting on Dr. Shoemaker’s final admonition. “Christmas is a time to focus on why we are what we are,” said Matthew. “Christ is the reason we live, and Christmas is a great time to take a step back and truly realize what He has done for us.”