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‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’: Shepherdstown Community Club celebrates Christmas with sing-along

By Staff | Dec 28, 2018

Community members fill their plates with Russian food during the Shepherdstown Community Christmas Carol Sing-Along on Dec. 18. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Christmas music filled the War Memorial Building on Dec. 18, during the Shepherdstown Community Club’s Russian dinner and Christmas Carol Sing-Along, led by Brother Tim Jacot, of Shepherdstown.

The dinner is one of many held by the club throughout the year, to encourage community togetherness and interest in the community service club.

“We want to offer more meals like this — our intent is for community outreach. We want to engage the community much more fully–to make everyone feel welcome, and these meals are a good start,” said SCC President-elect Nancy Stewart. “We try to have a program every dinner, and this seemed to me to be a chance when everybody would join in — there’s no real message behind it. We’re just having this nice, mid-winter, Russian-themed dinner.”

According to Stewart, the club’s theme of Russian food for the dinner was decided by caterer Carol Sanders, who served a buffet-style meal of Polish Hunter’s Stew, red cabbage and potatoes, red cabbage and apples, Russian Black Bread and Buckwheat Cake drizzled with Rosehip and Apple Syrup.

“I love food, and I like to make things that are new to me and old to me. I always like to do something that I’ve never done before,” Sanders said, mentioning this was the first time she had baked the bread or dessert. “This is definitely winter food.”

From left, Shepherdstown Community Club members Larry Dean and Dave Pugh talk with bartenders SCC member Mina Goodrich and Donna Bertazzoni, of Shepherdstown, during the Christmas Carol Sing-Along on Dec. 18. Tabitha Johnston

To carry on the Russian theme throughout the entire evening, SCC President Mike Austin provided some decorations from his time in Russia in 1982, including three Russian tea cozy dolls and a brass samovar. According to Austin, the dinner’s theme was extremely appropriate, because Russians tend to go all-out in their Christmas celebrations.

“[Russians] really observe Christmas in all its refinements. There’s an affinity between Christmas traditions and Russian food,” Austin said. “To me, Russian literature and art had a profound impact on my life, and they had some incredible Christmas traditions.”

Although some people at the dinner, according to Austin, have been attending the annual event for about 40 years, others were experiencing it for the first time.

“This is the first time I’ve been here when we’ve had a sing-along,” said SCC member of 12 years Larry Dean, explaining he has attended other SCC events throughout the years. “It’s a get-together for the existing members, and if somebody walks in off the streets, we will welcome them with open arms.”

One such couple attending the dinner were Leah and Dave Rampy, who are new Shepherdstown residents.

“We just read about the dinner and decided to come,” Leah Rampy said. “I have heard that the community club is a great organization, and we just wanted to support the community this evening.”

According to Dave Rampy, there was one specific community member they were coming to support that evening.

“When Brother Tim is playing, we’ve got to sing with him!” Dave Rampy said.