Valley Christian Center's very own "Ole and Lena" will share Scandihoovian wisdom during the church's Christmas celebration, "A Minnesota Family Christmas."  Jeff Gillespie is Ole and Marcy Capelle is Lena. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Valley Christian Center's very own "Ole and Lena" will share Scandihoovian wisdom during the church's Christmas celebration, "A Minnesota Family Christmas." Jeff Gillespie is Ole and Marcy Capelle is Lena. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The beauty of the season and quirkiness of Minnesota traditions will be celebrated the evening of Saturday, Dec. 14, during a community Christmas celebration at Valley Christian Center in Spring Valley.

"We chose a Minnesota theme this year because Christmas in Minnesota is so incredibly beautiful, and we have wonderfully quirky traditions," said Valley Christian Center's (VCC) worship director, Maria Klingsheim, anticipating the fifth annual VCC Christmas celebration, "A Minnesota Family Christmas," on the calendar for the evening of Saturday, Dec. 14. "To some that come in, it may feel just like business as usual, as if everyone celebrates with the same food and revelry as us, but we really do have a unique culture in Minnesota. Minnesotans have delightful and delicious Christmas traditions that are worth showcasing."

"A Minnesota Family Christmas" features a variety show called "Good Morning, MN!" with Ole (Jeff Gillespie) and Lena (Marcy Capelle) and many guests. Also, the community chorale, accordion music by Ron Vorwerk, a sing-along, food, family photographs, a quilt raffle and prizes. Klingsheim, as Enda McCarthy, will host the cooking segment "You Bet It's Good!" and Sven (Rod Vorwerk) will bring the weather forecast.

The event will also feature an original script by Debi Neville, a former Spring Valley resident and founder of Brave Community Theatre of Spring Valley, entitled "Christmas Analysis," a vocal solo, "The Night Before Christmas" performed by Hannah Corson, and a recitation of "She's Somebody's Mother" by Rod Vorwerk - a poetic sentiment regarding how we should care for one another.

Ron Vorwerk will entertain with his accordion while congregation members of VCC and members in the community chorale contribute to the entertainment.

The community chorale, directed by Klingsheim, includes Jeff Gillespie, Marcy Capelle, Sierra Kellogg, Julie Mlinar, Roger Svebakken, Khatashianna Van Brunt, Carol Skare, Sue Krahn, Christian and Emily Holter, Sean Aarsvold, Kirby Johnson, Hisako Eppen, Harlan Eickhoff, Craig Cornell, Denis Cornell, Gerald Denisen, Don Lyon, Don Dahl, Hannah Corson and Mary Ann Schultz.

"We had our first chorale rehearsal in the middle of November, and the rest of the acts are practicing on their own time," noted Klingsheim. "This is the first time we will be interacting with the audience during the show. We have prizes to give out, and carols to sing together, with four-part harmony strongly encouraged.

"This year's entertainment has been crafted by the cast members themselves. This was truly a collaborative effort that we have seen take shape right before our eyes. Spring Valley is so blessed to have such talent, from the entertainment side of things, to the food, to designing the crafts, to decorating, to hosting guests with a friendly smile. Every part is important."

There's certainly something Minnesotan to nosh while enjoying "A Minnesota Family Christmas." Food will be provided by Rachel Decker of Rachel's Kitchen. There will be several Minnesota treats this year, such as homemade lefse, compliments of Ellen Klingsheim, wild rice soup, and a Jello salad bar. Lutefisk, however, did not make the menu cut.

"Children - and whole families - are encouraged to walk down Candy Cane Lane to the craft rooms," said Klingsheim. "Jennifer Kimball has come up with adorable crafts that everyone will enjoy. Plus, strolling down Candy Cane Lane is a treat in and of itself."

Families who have yet to have their Christmas pictures taken may do so while at the church's annual Christmas open house. Photography by Kari is back to offer professional photos and people are asked to call ahead to reserve a spot. She also offers various designs of photo cards that will be printed and delivered in time to be sent out for Christmas.

Quilt and Minnesota fans will appreciate the opportunity to enter the quilt raffle to win the handmade Minnesota quilt on display. The quilt for the raffle was made by VCC member Ann Sparks and features woodsy, Minnesota-themed fabrics. It is roughly 60" by 60". Each raffle ticket is $1 and is a fundraiser for VCC children's ministry.

Klingsheim looks forward to the celebration for numerous reasons, but stated, "for me, it's all the decorations. We really aim to 'deck the halls' as much as we possibly can so that from the first moment people step into the church they are visually delighted and emotionally uplifted. Lisa Vorwerk and Polly Kellogg-Bradley are key players in creating the atmosphere this year. This event is entirely too much fun not to do - we at VCC like to offer the community family-friendly activities and we love seeing people enjoying themselves. There are familiar faces and new faces each year, and for that we are truly grateful."

She invited community members to stop in and take a break from the rush of the Advent season.

"This really is our whole goal...to provide a place full of joy and peace, wonder and God's love to be experienced by all ages and all walks of life," she said. "We pray that cares just melt away from people right when they enter the building and that they can breathe deeply and simply relax. This is the fifth year we've held this event, and everyone is welcome. Each year, more and more people come early for the food and fellowship time before the entertainment, and if people out there have only come to the performance portion in the past, it is highly encouraged that they arrive early...they won't be sorry they did."

Valley Christian Center's "A Minnesota Family Christmas" is free and open to the public on Saturday, Dec. 14. Doors open at 6 p.m., and entertainment begins at 7:30 p.m., though Ron Vorwerk will share his accordion skills during the fellowship hour from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (507) 346-2101, or email Klingsheim at info4vcc@gmail.com.