by TJ Marie
Details of the planning and the day of the first Christmas in July
The First Christmas in July
There are many reasons why anyone would want to celebrate Christmas in July. One reason is places which have a colder climate in July celebrate Christmas in order to have this colder climate ambience for their celebration. In December these places have a warmer climate during the actual date of December 25. In the retail world it is popular for different chains of store to have a sale and call it Christmas in July Sale. The very first celebration that has been recorded is in July 1933 at Camp Keystone. This camp is an all girl's summer camp in North Carolina.
Camp Keystone has decided that since there are so many children who come from families who have a very low income that they would do something special. While the girls are attending camp during the summer they would be have a Christmas celebration; they have chosen to do this in the month of July. July was chosen because that is when the most girls would be attending. There are many things to plan for this event.
The first thing to plan would be finding someone to play the part of Santa Claus. An advertisement was place in the paper and the interviews began in search for the perfect Santa Claus. This process took months to complete and was well worth it when we found our Santa Claus. The girls will be so surprised to see this unusual visit from the man that journeys from the North Pole. We also were looking for someone to be some elves to accompany Santa Claus.
Next we needed some funds or toys for presents. The director and counselors of Keystone decided to have a donation drive for the toys. We would accept either toys of money as donations for the girls. There was such a great response from the community that we were overwhelmed by it. We had church groups knitting socks, hats, and scarves to Girl Scout troops donating their money from their Girl Guide cookie sales. We received a heaping of toys and donations which we have been able to use. We are so grateful to all who took part.
Not only were we able to buy and give the girls gifts we have been fortunate to also have a variety of Christmas activities. We were able to buy different Christmas themed craft items so the girls could participate in Christmas themed crafts. The Christmas tree is also important and we fit that into our craft making activities. We were able to have Christmas tree ornament activity. The eight foot, pine smelling Christmas tree would be set up after all the girls go to bed and the next morning they would be surprised with the sight. There would be lights and different decorations, tinsel, and of course some spaces would be there for the decorations the girls would be making themselves.
Last of all to plan is the food. This is very important because there is so much to do here. The cookies, chocolate, and candy will all be homemade. The turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, Christmas cake, sweet potatoes, and truffle will all be part of the main meal. We thought the girls would be so surprised when they see all the food for them to eat. We are getting excited about this event ourselves.
The morning of the official first Christmas in July was magical. We did not tell the girls what they were in store for on the day. We started the festivities on Christmas Eve with our Christmas themed crafts. We put up the Christmas tree with Christmas music playing. The girls were able to make decorations for the tree and the room. Garland and mistletoe were made and made the room look great. While all these activities were going on there was a surprise visit from Santa Claus. All the girls were able to visit with Santa Claus and tell him what they would like for Christmas and he gave each child a sweet treat. After the visit from Santa the girls went to get ready for bed even though no one wanted to go to sleep. There was a big plate of cookies and milk left for Santa. More sounds of surprise and excitement could be heard when each girl discovered the gift of pyjamas from the pyjama elf.
After all the girls were put to bed and sound asleep, the staff went and put the presents under the tree. There was so much stuff it seemed like the room was swimming in presents. All the stockings for each girl lined up against the wall since they were too heavy to hang them up.
Christmas morning all the girls couldn't believe their eyes when they saw all the presents. This is a very emotional day for the staff because the happiness on the girl's faces was the most beautiful moment. All their hard work was worth every smiling face that morning. The day was spent opening the presents and playing with toys and eating candy and chocolate. When the time came for the big meal everyone was in good spirits.
This day was such a great experience that it has been repeated through the years every year as a tradition for the Keystone camp. Christmas in July has been one of the most rewarding events we have ever participated in.