As I walked up the aisle to set up for church this morning, 3rd grader Rudy motioned to me.
“Why is everything purple?”
The prayerful season of Advent is upon us, and he noticed the change in the externals. Of course Advent is more about interior decorating – of our hearts – getting spiritually ready for the wonderful Christmas season. Our children’s choir learned two new songs, Emmanuel, familiar lyrics but in a new setting, and Candles of Advent, to emphasize the hope we hold out in the Light of the World. While in church we can burn real candles, fire regulations won’t let us get away with that in the homes. All of the homes have Advent wreaths, but with electric candles. Each home has age appropriate prayer books and resource materials to help each child enter into the spirit of the season.
While holiday decorations are going up all around us, we ask our homes to hold off on decorating for Christmas until later in December, so our community can experience the Advent season of patient waiting with great expectation. This year, we made an exception for two of the homes. The Stevens and Mathias Homes where our 6th – 8th grade girls live just finished up a major remodeling this year, and were asked to participate in Chamberlain’s annual Holiday Parade of Homes. People buy a $10 ticket and are able to tour several area homes to get ideas for decorating and enjoy the Christmas spirit. Proceeds benefited our public library, so it was for a good cause. Our girls baked holiday treats and took great pride in giving visitors tours and showcasing their home. It gave people from town, who might not normally come onto St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus or into the homes, an opportunity to see how our Lakota students live and also learn more about our approach to residential education.
The Stevens Home was named after a long time St. Joseph’s employee, Virginia Stevens, who has since passed away. We did have two special visitors – two of her daughters back for a visit, which made the day doubly special. While one of the daughters was gazing at the dedication portrait of her mother, 6th grader Jacquelyn remarked, “You look just like her!” That evoked a misty eye, a spreading smile and a big hug. We gathered around the Christmas tree for some photos.
Lots of activity over the weekend. Our high school wrestlers left Saturday at 4:30 a.m. for a tournament, and didn’t return until after midnight. In South Dakota, distances between towns and schools are great and some events have to be played 3 or even 4 hours away. The HS basketball teams had their first scrimmage of the season, and the crowd got a preview of things to come, with our St. Joseph’s students getting lots of playing time. Our own 8th grade girls hosted a four-team tournament and kept the trophy for the second year in a row. The junior high students not on the team cooked Sloppy Joes and hot dogs, along with cookies and bars to sell at the concession stand.
Our archery team was busy practicing their aim in the school gym, vying for a spot on the team that will compete against other schools at the Lakota Nations Invitational Tournament in a few weeks.
We enjoyed sunny and warm weather, unusual for December. Lots of kids were outside playing games and enjoying time on the playground.