Members of the Fort Belvoir community can sing Christmas songs, eat cookies and drink hot cider or cocoa during the annual Fort Belvoir Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday, at 4:30 p.m.
The ceremony, at the main post chapel at the corner of Belvoir Road and 12th Street, includes a brass quintet that will play from 4:30 to 5 p.m. while residents enjoy their snacks.
The event is a good way to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas, according to Chaplain (Maj.) Kristi Pappas.
“Christmas is always about the birth of Christ and giving up oneself to others,” said Pappas. “Christmas is about good deeds and people reaching out.”
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James King, deputy garrison chaplain and senior protestant pastor, enjoys how the Christmas tree lighting ceremony brings people out.
“The Christmas tree lighting is an opportunity for the entire community to come together, people from all across the post,” said King. “For many, it represents the light of Christ coming to lighten the world.”
The Navy Sea Chanters and County Chorus will perform at Wallace Theatre at 7 p.m. after the tree lighting, Friday. This is the third time in four years the Chorus has performed after the tree lighting ceremony.
“It’s a wonderful way to start the season with the celebration of the tree lighting and a holiday music concert,” said King. “Fort Belvoir is home to so many people of all branches, we’re delighted to have the Navy represented in bringing us this performance.”
The ceremony will include an invocation and words from Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson. He will flip the switch to light the tree with the assistance of several children from the audience.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive after the lighting of the tree to hand out candy canes and talk to the children.
“We set up the two bishop’s chairs in the front foyer of the chapel so they come in one door then go out the other one,” said Pappas. “They can go out and talk to Santa and Mrs. Claus.”
Pappas said it’s important to remember to be selfless since our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is a gift, not a privilege.
“I think we’ve forgotten what our founding fathers gave us and where they were influenced,” said Pappas. “They understood our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness was a gift from our creator. It wasn’t something we made up or could do.”
Pappas added “As we so often focus on ourselves now, we forget greater humanity. We also have forgotten that Christ not only gave us a fish, but taught us to fish.”