While winter winds cool the countryside, we can be comforted by the peaceful white that blankets the hills. All around us, things are getting brighter and more clear as so many lights fill the evening darkness. We know something is about to happen that is missing in other months. Let us look at the lights of Christmas and see where we may find some stillness and calm.
Explore the Davis & Elkins College campus. Numerous light displays provide a stately elegance as visitors pass through, especially at Graceland, Halliehurst and the downtown entrance. The D&E initials that can be seen from Elkins City Park even sport a bold beam.
The Elkins Railroad Depot area, which has had tracks humming with Polar Express excursions, is sitting beside a beautiful set of lighted figures that beg for evening walks allowing guests to experience the radiant colors first hand.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Shannon Bennett Campbell
A lone candle in one of the Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church windows brightens the early evening and reminds us of why so many celebrate Christmas.
And the very striking new Veteran's Memorial display, designed by Mountain Hospice's Mike Elza, has added a superb presentation of our country's colors to a busy intersection. The Whitelights at New York's Lincoln Center might rival these, but they will not be better.
A visit through the Tygart Valley will also afford one some "oohs" and "ahhs," as no expense is spared to share light displays that mark this Holy Season. It is admirable how many individuals decorate to commemorate this special time, some even with one lone candle at their apartment's window.
If an indoor light show is your fancy, stop by the American Mountain Theater for their Christmas Spectacular. Its glitz and brightness are rivaled only by the polished horns that reflect the professional qualities of all who perform.
Diverting to other venues in Central West Virginia, we stop by Buckhannon and view their lovely lighted lampposts lining their Main Street, and West Virginia Wesleyan's annual Festival of Lights and Carols that will be held tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Wesley Chapel. This setting typlifies most churches with their Advent Candles and gold-glittered Chrismon trees glowing as a celebration of Christ's birth that is portrayed as a glorious event.
If visiting Lewis County, get prepared because some magnificent destinations await you. Just a quick trip up Weston's Main Street will make you feel like you are in Vegas. The "Dancing Snowflakes" have been there for many years and flash on and off to arouse the spirit. Santa and Rudolph fly overhead and even senior citizens get excitable when they see them.
North from Weston, it is a 10-minute drive to the Annual Jackson's Mill Winter Lights Celebration that begins this weekend with a craft show today and the Mill's Country Store being open until 8 p.m. Many buildings at the State 4-H Camp will be decorated with hundreds of candle luminaries.
South of Weston at Stonewall Resort, the gift shop is aglow with numerous brightly lit displays and shiny, ornamented trees. The decorated fireplace warms the heart and if visiting the weekend of Dec. 20-22, the Clarksburg Madrigal Singers will be sharing songs while strolling through the lodge. Visitors are always welcome to buffet dinners or those from the menu at Stillwaters Restaurant with glimmering lakeside reflections a constant.
Now, if a twinkle from an eye is your goal, get to Beverly today for the Old World Santa's appearance at the Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration. A special homemade lunch is available at the Beverly Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. with cookie trays, canned goods, and baked items everyone will find tasty.
The Beverly Heritage Center will have candies and cakes, as well.
But the Elkins Lutheran ladies will tell you that their eyes twinkle brighter, and their Annual Bazaar also begins this morning at 9 a.m. with assorted gift items and a lunch special including soups, hot dogs and frosted cookie choices.
The many lights this year are especially appreciated. We truly "need a little Christmas," as the familiar song lyrics describe. Our people are having to adapt to changes they are finding at almost every turn. Sometimes, these are not pleasing, nor easily performed. For strength, it is often that brightest skyward star that commands our attention - the star that will not let us go.
As its beams remind us of the promise of a child to lead us all, let us be reminded that ours is not to simply observe, but be stimulated by the brightness we see and seek to find the love that can lift us past all of life's challenges. Certainly, if we cannot do it on our own, someone will extend a hand ro help us until we can progress forward again. This is the Appalachian way and a custom we are proud to preserve.
Love is found in many places - a mother's heart, a child's smile, work that is meaningful, a fiance's laugh, but, maybe, no more than in a quiet night when nature sings its song of wonder and bids us to believe the new day's sun can lend its light to help us find direction.
Said the orphan, Annie, "Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow." And this promise to us keeps the home fires going and our eyes fully set on One greater than we are. My Christmas wish is that you and yours will share in the light and love of this season and let the spirit that we feel enliven our souls and continue to stand with us always.