It was a scene right out of Christmas’ past. Even Charles Dickens would have found it difficult to describe the serenity of the time and place that was Pioneer Village over the past couple of weekends.
On Friday of last week, I received a nice note from Paul and Vicki Frenzel. The note said that Pioneer Village would be open at 6 p.m. that evening to host its “Stars in the Village” program. According to the email, The O’Neal Brothers band would be performing in the old 1870 Hamon Church. Kids would be popping popcorn over a campfire and roasting marshmallows. The kiddos would also be making Christmas ornaments and candles, drinking wassail and hot chocolate and eating homemade cookies. All the houses and buildings would be decorated for Christmas in that Saint Nicholas would soon be there.
In fact, Santa was there to listen to the hopes, dreams and wishes of children of all ages.
I had never been to Pioneer Village to see the majestic Stars in the Village scene, so I instantly accepted the Frenzels’ invitation to visit Christmas past. I was glad I did.
Upon arriving at the village, we immediately ran into Paul out in the parking lot. He walked us into the village, and I was mesmerized by the enchantment of the place. The paths were lit with white lights hanging in the trees, and the buildings were lit with the soft flow of amber lighting. It was magical even before I began the tour.
The first building we went to was manned by none other than Vicki. We smiled, chatted briefly, and were given ideas on what to see and what to do. As is the case with the glorious ambassadors of Gonzales, it was basically “see everything. You do not want to miss anything.”
We walked over to the popcorn pit and watched a four- or five-year old hesitate at making popcorn. In a few minutes, he was smiling from ear-to-ear and chirping like a magpie. After that, we went over to the Santa Claus area and chatted with St. Nick. We took pictures, and I told Santa I thought the children of Gonzales deserved extra special treatment this year. He smiled, and with a wink of his eye told me he knew there were lots and lots of boys and girls from this area on his “nice” list.
We heard music coming from the Hamon Church and walked over to hear Bobby and his band play. The church had a special holiday glow to it, and we listened to the O’Neal Brothers perform a few songs and even got to interact briefly with Bobby. After a couple of songs, Bobby asked those in attendance to sing along with the band as they played Amazing Grace. Everyone did, and it was extremely moving. In the audience, there was not a dry eye in the house—yours truly included.
We walked the entire tour, and I found that by the end of my time at the Stars in the Village program I was smiling. I had an inner contentment and feeling of spirituality that often comes around during this special season called Christmas and Pioneer Village had put me in the mood.
I would like to thank Paul and Vicki for their special invitation, but more importantly, I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who volunteers and serves at Pioneer Village. I saw docents and historic interpreters of all ages on the property. I choose to believe it is a good sign that bodes well for the future of Pioneer Village and that it will be around for a long, long time.
After leaving the village, we were headed south to the ranch. As we were driving on 183 just south of Circle G, a magnificent sight manifested itself. Off to the east, a large, bright orange full moon was slowing rising over the horizon to take its place in the celestial heavens. It was mesmerizing. After the tremendous sunsets we had at the end of last week, the good Lord decided to reward us with a couple of unsurpassed moon rises as well. It only added to my mood of serenity, and it was serendipitous given everything we had seen and done.
At the end of the night, sitting under the stars next to the tank with a roaring bonfire blazing, we heard the call of the coyotes. It was a finishing touch to a mentally satisfying night. After seeing Stars in the Village and watching the full moon rise, I felt like hollowing like a coyote myself.