Final exams are wrapping up at Davis & Elkins College, and students are preparing to return home to celebrate Christmas with their families. The Christmas season, a miraculous and magical time of the year, has already touched my heart. Due to the disruption of the pandemic, my eyes have been opened to savoring so much we previously took for granted. I offer three simple examples.

D&E not only “decked the halls,” we decked the whole campus. Everywhere on campus, the wreaths, garland, trees and twinkling lights remind all this is the most wonderful time of the year. A brief 12 months ago, as we prepared to celebrate Christmas 2020, D&E kept most of the trees and tinsel stored away due to the semester ending at Thanksgiving in order to mitigate COVID cases being brought back to campus. How glorious that the Christmas light has returned to a campus that was dark and undecorated just one year ago.

Thanks to our very high vaccine rate on campus, holiday gatherings have returned. Student groups have come together to celebrate and serve in the spirit of the holiday. Food drives and coat drives on campus took place to provide for those less fortunate. D&E’s final Chapel service of the year was filled with the carols of the season and the reading of the scriptural account of the Christmas story. Departments and offices have planned individual holiday parties, and the entire faculty and staff will come together next week for a Christmas celebration in our newly renovated space at the Myles Center for the Arts. Twelve months ago, holiday parties were largely virtual if they occurred at all. Festivity was muted on these hallowed grounds.

A large gathering of students walked down the middle of Davis Avenue in downtown Elkins last Friday night. Walking behind a D&E Christmas banner, student-athletes carried flutter flags with the College logo and tossed branded D&E balls to the children along the road.  Wishes for a very Merry Christmas accompanied our participation in the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber “Jingle All the Way” parade which resumed for the first time since 2019. The quaintness of the small-town America parade was evident as the long line of entries passed through the main thoroughfare. The parade organizers saved the best for last as the D&E contingency was the conclusion of a long line of marchers. Santa and Mrs. Claus led the parade and D&E brought it to a glorious close.

By themselves, decorating the campus for Christmas, attending holiday gatherings, and participating in a Christmas parade may not seem worthy of special mention. And yet, 2020 taught us that we need to appreciate the blessings we are given, and never take them for granted. We see with new eyes.

Two millennia ago, the world was a dark place. Today, darkness once again is creeping across our world.  Into the darkness shone a great light … then and now. That is why Christmas is so miraculous, and why I am so grateful for its advent once again … into our world and into our individual hearts and lives.

Wishing all a blessed holiday season, as the journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College