- Tuesday, 11 December 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
EDIT: Due to concerns over the rain forecast on Saturday, Dec. 15, the location has changed to the original Dirtbag Ales at 3623 Legion Road in Hope Mills. Please visit the Hayat Yoga Shala page on Facebook for further details.
Hayat Hakim has lived in the Fayetteville-Hope Mills area for the past 10 years, but she still has fond memories of the first 20 years of her life spent growing up in Bonn, Germany.
“I was raised going to the German Christmas market every year with my family,’’ Hakim said. “We basically celebrated by going with the entire family. The memories the entire time I was raised in Germany brought such a familiar feeling of community with me.’’
Hakim, who operates Hayat Yoga Shala on Raeford Road, tried to bring the German Christmas market experience on a smaller scale to the students at her yoga studio four years ago.
This year, with the help of Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom, Hakim is putting together a much larger scale event that will be held at Dirtbag’s new brewery at 5435 Corporation Dr. in the Gray’s Creek community. The market is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“Every year at this time, I miss home very much,’’ Hakim said. For some time, she’s been exploring what could be done to bring a little bit of the German Christmas market feel to this community, which she described as versatile and diverse in cultural aspects.
“I realized how much people wanted that experience in their lives; soldiers stationed in Germany, German spouses who came over here with their families,” she said. “They all just miss it. That’s why we are trying to recreate that good feel.’’
An obvious feature of the German Christmas market will be multiple food and drink options. In addition to German-style beer, Hakim plans to offer “glühwein,” a German-Austrian after-ski drink.
“It’s a warmer, sweeter red wine,’’ Hakim said. “It has different ingredients like orange and cinnamon and a homemade recipe of sweetness.’’ She described it as having a Christmas feeling that warms the whole body.
Pastries are also a big part of the German Christmas market experience. A local catering service will be on hand to provide “lebkuchenherzen,” which are gingerbread hearts.
A German food truck will be at the market, and an authentic German café will be recreated to offer dishes familiar to the German community.
German potato salad will be available, along with assorted types of coffee popular to the German community.
In addition to the food offerings, Hakim has commitments from up to 30 vendors for the German Christmas market with a goal of landing as many as 40.
“We have a lot of handcrafted vendors,’’ she said, “from artists to unique jewelry makers.’’
One artist scheduled to appear makes glass ornaments by hand and will be hand-painting them during the market.
There will also be local farmers on hand with displays of produce.
The market will also have a dog park for those who want to bring their pets, as well as a playground for children.
While some of the vendors will accept credit cards, Hakim suggests people planning to make purchases at the market be prepared to bring cash with them.
The event will be held outdoors so Hakim advises patrons to be prepared to dress for whatever weather may develop.
For further information about the Christmas market, including details on specific vendors, visit the Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom or the German Christmas Market pages on Facebook.
Photo: Left to right: Dirtbag Ales staff Nick Demetris, Hope Demetris and Elizabeth Brogan; Hayat Hakim; and Dirtbag Ales co-owner Vernardo Simmons-Valenzuela.
- Tuesday, 04 December 2018
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
The annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ through the presentation of the Singing Christmas Tree at Highland Baptist Church in Hope Mills will have a dual meaning this season. This year’s performance is scheduled for Dec. 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. each evening.
The choir members, and the congregation as well, will celebrate the memory and ministry of their late choir director, Nancy Brady, who died last May after a second battle with cancer.
It is fitting that Dawn Seegars, a pupil of Brady’s years ago at Hope Mills Junior High School, who later sang under her direction at Highland Baptist, is taking time from her regular job of leading the music ministry at Temple Baptist Church in Eastover to lead the Singing Christmas Tree at Highland. This will be the first Singing Christmas Tree since Brady died.
“She was my junior high chorus teacher at Hope Mills,’’ Seegars said, “and I was a member at Highland under her ministry.”
Seegars said Brady had a way of making anyone who wanted to be a part of the music ministry at Highland feel welcome, whether they had any background in music or not.
Brady was in poor health last year when the Singing Christmas Tree practices began, and Seegars was actually on standby to come in at the last minute if Brady wasn’t able to lead the choir.
When Brady died earlier this year, Seegars said church members reached out to her and asked if she would be able to direct the choir this Christmas season. “I have a large group of friends at Highland,’’ Seegars said. “I love the people at that church. They are precious, sweet people. I’ve always kept in touch, especially with Nancy, trying to help her.’’
Rehearsals have been a challenge for Seegars, dividing time between her full-time job as a nurse at a local gastrointestinal practice and her regular duties with the music ministry at Temple Baptist.
“The choir has been fantastic,’’ she said of the people at Highland. “They have worked so hard on their own, and we’ve had lengthy practices instead of multiple practices.’’
Brady traditionally picked the music for the Singing Christmas Tree each year, mixing traditional tunes with contemporary selections. Seegars has tried to follow in that tradition but insisted on getting input from the Highland singers. “I don’t mind being a leader and helping with the music, but I felt like — and some of the people I spoke with felt like — we really needed everybody to come together and say, yes, we wanted to do this,’’ Seegars said.
The biggest challenge for Seegars was dealing with her personal emotions and those of the choir members as rehearsals began, being exposed to tangible memories of Brady’s presence and influence on the church’s music.
“It was a hurting place,’’ Seegars said. “To walk in the choir room and to sit at the piano where she played parts for all of us to learn choir music from for so many years. To see the notes she had written: The last few practices where they took prayer requests, and it’s sitting there in her handwriting.
“It’s all been quite an emotional journey.’’ The same is true for longtime choir members like Dede Mabe, who has been around since Highland started the Singing Christmas Tree in the mid-1980s.
“Nancy was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known,’’ Mabe said of Brady. The Singing Christmas Tree wasn’t a performance of music for Brady, Mabe said. It was a ministry, the biggest outreach that the church does. “It takes about 100 people to put it all together,’’ Mabe said. “It’s an outreach because you are telling the story of Jesus Christ being born. You are just spreading the word.’’
For Mabe, the most powerful memories of Brady leading the singing of the Singing Christmas Tree every year are yet to come. They will happen during the actual presentation.
When the singers were actually in place, Brady would stand in the back of the church on a scaffold, out of view of the congregation.
Brady wore oversized Mickey Mouse hands that glowed in the dark while directing. “Sometimes she would do little things to make us smile,’’ Mabe said. “She would clap or give you a thumbs-up. If she was really feeling the spirit, she’d throw her hands up in the air, praising the Lord. I’ll miss seeing that.’’
Highland’s pastor, Rev. Zach Kennedy, agreed with Mabe that for Brady, the Singing Christmas Tree was a ministry of the church, not a mere performance of music.
“She wanted people to understand what Christmas was really about,’’ he said. “She wanted them to understand God literally sent his son to become a man. Christmas is all about the beginning of how all people can be saved and brought to aright relationship with God.’’
Kennedy said the Singing Christmas Tree gives the church an opportunity to connect with people who might not come to a regular Sunday morning worship service.
He said the perfect tribute to Brady at this year’s Singing Christmas Tree would be for even one person to attend the event and come to a real relationship with Jesus.
“That’s exactly what Nancy would want and what every one of us should want out of that,’’ he said.
Seating for the Singing Christmas Tree is on a first come, first served basis, and there is no charge. The church has a food pantry and is partnering with the Balm In Gilead Family Counseling Ministries to accept donations of non-perishable food, clothing and hygiene items.
For more information on making donations or on the event, contact the church during regular business hours at 910-425-5305.