People celebrate the holiday season in very different ways. Some go all out on decorations and lights. Some pose as Santa Claus, delivering more than gifts. Others endeavor to carry on centuries-old traditions for a new generation.
Schertz family lights up Christmas
Jeff Womack and his family light up the holiday nights in his northern Schertz neighborhood in a big way.
They have been inviting community members to see thousands of Christmas lights strung around their house and front lawn each holiday season since 2010.
Hand-crafted wooden cutouts of classic characters such as Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a bubble machine and a big chair for Santa Claus are all part of the Yuletide scene.
Womack and his wife, Michelle, moved to Schertz in 2002, bringing with them a colorful tradition they started at their former home in South Carolina. When he was growing up, Jeff Womack said his family did not put up Christmas lights around their house.
The Air Force veteran has made up for that.
“You know what they say, ‘Everything is bigger in Texas,’ so I went from a couple of thousand lights to the third year I was here, when we had 120,000,” he said.
The couple have put up 70,000-80,000 LED lights in recent years, and Womack said this is likely their final year for a major display. The family gets plenty of help in planning and setting up the lights and decorations.
More and more community members come to see the elaborate display every year. The Womacks post their progress and activities on a Facebook page, We Believe In Christmas.
Visit www.facebook.com/WeBelieveInChristmas/ to learn more.
And there are events for the public to enjoy at the Womack homestead. Jeff Womack dresses up as Santa just about each Saturday evening during the holiday season, greeting parents and their children. There’s also a driveway mailbox where children can drop off their North Pole-bound letters.
The Womacks raise awareness for a local charity, too. They sought out a cause that could benefit from money that visitors would try to give to the family for its efforts.
The Womacks now accept donations of new and unwrapped toys, clothes, blankets or anything else of use to The Forgotten Child. It’s a Schertz-based nonprofit helping neglected and abused children who receive care through Child Protective Services.
The lights will be up through Jan. 6 at the home, 2944 Mineral Springs St.
Santa’s school bus in Alamo Heights
Bus drivers in the Alamo Heights Independent School District don’t mind demonstrating their holiday spirit, especially Gayle Hall.
Hall, who’s been driving school transports for 25 years — the last five with AHISD — decorates her bus nearly every month to match the holidays or season, as well as for graduation.
During Christmas, she decks the bus’ ceiling and front with a range of small decorations — stockings, cutouts of reindeer, snowmen, tree ornaments and Santa, among other things.
Hall drives some of the school district’s youngest students, and they seem to get a kick out of the trimmings. They like it even more when Hall puts on a reindeer antler hat or dons a Kris Kringle outfit.
“I enjoy dressing up for my precious cargo,” she said. “They look forward to seeing it every month.”
Hanukkah celebrated at Pearl
A local organization, Young and Jewish San Antonio, gathered the local Jewish community for the fourth annual lighting of a 9-foot menorah at Pearl on Dec. 3. It was an event marked by traditional songs from local band Tera Ferna, reverence and fun for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Rabbi Chaim Block, executive director of the local Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning, reminded the crowd the menorah-lighting is a tale of perseverance exemplified by Jews who, centuries ago, continued tradition in the face of oppression and overwhelming odds.
At that time, Jews in rebellion had only a tiny supply of pure olive oil to light their menorah, yet the oil lasted eight days until new purified oil could be prepared.
“The real miracle of Hanukkah is that they actually looked for the oil,” Block said. “They could’ve given up. ‘No oil, we’ll wait.’ But they didn’t just suffice with waiting. They were determined to do their share.”