When someone says "Happy Holidays" to Payson resident Eric Santana, he is quick to respond, "Merry Christmas."
Reminding people that Christmas is about Jesus Christ is something Santana and members of the Payson Christian Ministerial Fellowship hope to do each year with what has now become an annual musical event called "The Spirit of Christmas."
Payson Christian Ministerial Fellowship:"The Spirit of Christmas"
When: 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3
Where: Payson High School auditorium
Cost: Free. Donations welcome.
"This is, to us, the most wonderful time of the year," Santana said. "It brings a sort of magical feeling with the season. ‘The Spirit of Christmas' is about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ and what he brings to us."
Santana explained that he believes the magic of Christmas is really the spirit of God working in people's lives.
"It's the songs, the joy, the peace, the lights, and the giving. Christmas stays as long as we don't forget the meaning. We hope to help bring in the spirit of Christmas."
The live musical event is sponsored by the Payson Christian Ministerial Fellowship and will be presented at two performances on Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Payson High School auditorium, with a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening show at 6 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to help the fellowship with the costs of programs it provides for the Rim Country.
"People's lives are so busy and sometimes we get caught up in just going and going," Santana said. "This program is a great performance put on by local talent."
Musicians and performers from numerous community churches will be participating in the program Sunday, which will feature a variety of holiday music including: "O' Come All ye Faithful," "First Snow," "Happy Birthday Jesus -- Cymbala, A Mad Russian's Christmas," "The Prince of Peace," "O' Come O' Come Emmanuel," and "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24."
Musicians participating in the program include Diana Rushlow, piano and keyboard; Isaac Bradford, rhythm guitar; Michael Stoll, lead guitar; Rick Quigley, bass; Ken Curl, keyboards; and Les Barr, drums. Kathy Kaufman will lead the choir.
Santana hopes the music and atmosphere of the season will go home with the audience.
"When people leave the show, we hope they leave with a sense of awe about Christmas," Santana said. "We hope they feel like they have been to a free concert that was as good as any paid concert. We also hope they get to know more about the birth of Christ, the reason for the season."
For more information, call Eric Santana 474-1775.