Christmas on the Hill

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The Matsiko (meaning “hope”) World Orphan Choir from Uganda appears in a free holiday concert at Idyllwild Pines Camp at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23. Tickets are available at the Camp Office and seating is limited. The children sing of hope, for their lives and for all of us. Photo courtesy Idyllwild Pines

Southern Californians dream of a white Christmas as they move about in a palm-tree-studded holiday landscape. The decorations are there — giant snowflakes, Santa in a sleigh, Christmas trees on street corner lots, but the temperatures are warm and snow is out of the question.

But in Idyllwild, in most years, a Currier and Ives Christmas is a reality. Snow comes before or after Thanksgiving and many Christmases are white.

This year, even in Idyllwild, temperatures have been unseasonably warm. Finally this week, winter temperatures have arrived. Recent Santa Ana winds have subsided. All we need now is a dusting of that white magic to complete the picture postcard Christmas we often have. So, we, too, are dreaming of a white Christmas.

At Christmas, this alpine village turns on its holiday twinkle. There is the giant sequoia in the new Idy Park, brilliant with thousands of LED Christmas lights. The park is the new center of town — a tranquil place to gather beneath the town’s Christmas tree centerpiece with surrounding shops and restaurants aglow with holiday warmth.

For a small village, Idyllwild is blessed with a dazzling array of fine restaurants and watering spots, but given Idyllwild’s holiday popularity with off-Hill tourists, reservations are recommended.

The Rustic Theatre is screening the newest “Star Wars” edition — “The Last Jedi” at 2 and 7 p.m. The Rustic screens its films in full digital sound and video of the highest quality and this “Star Wars” edition is sure to be popular with young and old.

Because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, local churches are hosting morning services as well as Christmas Eve candlelight services. Check our Church and Spiritual Centers Directory of Idyllwild on page B9 for service times.

Idyllwild Bible Church offers two Candelight Celebrations on Sunday, Christmas eve, one at 4:30 p.m. and another at 6 p.m.

Idyllwild Center for Spiritual Living offers a Candelighting Service at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve with special music by Phyllis Curington-Brown, Elaine Balkman Latimer, Christian Chalifour and Barbara Rayliss.

Idyllwild Community Presbyterian Church offers a morning Christmas service at 9:30 a.m. and a Candelight Service at 7 p.m. Sunday, Christmas Eve.

Christmas sing-a-longs begin at 5:30 p.m. Christmas Eve at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church, followed by Holy Communion and fellowship.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, Idyllwild Pines Camp is hosting the Matsiko World Orphan Choir from Uganda in a free concert. Seating is limited and tickets, available at the camp office, are required. The choir’s name means “hope” in the Luganda language and the children sing of love and hope, calling attention to the challenges orphaned children face throughout the world.

During a holiday season in which a baby born in a poor manger was destined to provide hope to millions, it is fitting that these poor orphaned children are singing of their hope to give us more hope.

Whether in Idyllwild or off the Hill, the center of Christmas and Hanukkah is reverence for and celebration of traditions of faith and hope — celebrating the best of who we are at a time in this world when love, family, common decency and kindness are especially important.

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