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The hustle and bustle of holiday preparations will come to an end this weekend. Whatever gift you still need to buy or cookie you need to bake will have to wait. It is time to bring our scurrying selves to a halt and settle in to absorb the perfect love of the Christmas season.

While shutting our minds down from checking off items on our mental to do lists may seem impossible, I can tell you it is quite possible — not to mention emotionally fulfilling — to do. You see, when we quiet our minds and open our hearts to the purity of Christmas, we can find peace. And where there is peace, there is love. And where there is love, there is meaning for your life.

To discover and celebrate this love, please consider stopping by any of the church services taking place in town.

The Rev. Alex Becker and the congregation of Langcliffe Presbyterian Church will have regular worship at 10 a.m. and a short Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, at the church, 1001 Main St.

The Rev. Philip Sladicka, Deacon Jim Rose and the parishioners of Queen of the Apostles Parish will have Christmas Masses at the church, 715 Hawthorne St., at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, children’s liturgy; midnight and 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 25. Midnight Mass will be preceded by the singing of traditional Christmas hymns beginning at 11:15 p.m. Mass for the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, at the church.

The Rev. Dale Pepper and the congregation of St. John’s Primitive Methodist Church will have a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, at the church, 314 Main St.

The Rev. Sharon Deitz and the congregation of the Bethel United Methodist Church will have a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 11 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24, at the church, 532 Main St.

On behalf of my family and me, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with God’s richest blessings!

Santa visit

Members of the Avoca Fire Department will escort Santa Claus through town beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, on their fire truck. Santa will ride around Avoca to say hello to everybody and give treat bags to all of the children. But, if you don’t see Santa and his friends right away, don’t get scared you were suddenly placed on the naughty list. It will take some time for Santa to make his way to every street in town.

Holiday trash collection

Due to the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday, garbage will be collected a day late the weeks of Dec. 24 and 31. Garbage will be collected Tuesday, Dec. 26, and Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Queen of the Apostles news

Queen of the Apostles Parish is selling tickets for its Pot of Gold Stocking Stuffer raffle. Tickets, which are $10 each, offer a chance to win $75 daily and $100 on Fridays throughout January, as well as $250 on Jan. 15 and $500 on Jan. 1 and 31.

For information or to purchase a ticket, contact the parish office at 570-457-3412. The daily winning number must match the state lottery’s evening Pick 3 number.

The parish has Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the church, 715 Hawthorne St. At the present time, the parish is in need of a Eucharistic Adorer for the 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. hour. Anyone who can commit to this hour should call Ann Jake at 570-457-3521 or the parish office.

The parish will have its Holy Hour for Life at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the church.

The parish will have its St. Brigid’s Tea at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, in the Queen of the Apostles Parish Hall, 742 Spring St.

Queen of the Apostles Parish announces the following meetings: pastoral council, 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 8, rectory; women’s guild, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9, rectory; word committee, 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 15, rectory; worship committee, 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 15, rectory; buildings and grounds committee, 6:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 29, rectory, and finance council, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30, rectory.

Food pantry

The Avoca Food Pantry will be open at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, at Bethel United Methodist Church, 532 Main St. Food can be picked up in the rear entry of the building.

Volunteers are needed to unload and distribute food at 1:30 p.m.

Council meeting

Avoca Borough Council will have its monthly meeting Thursday, Jan. 11, at the municipal building, 752 Main St.

The work session will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed immediately by the regular meeting.

Langcliffe game

and movie nights

Langcliffe Presbyterian Church will host its monthly game night from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at the church, 1001 Main St. From chess to Uno, Parcheesi to Settlers of Catan, they’ll have an assortment of fun games to play. Stop by to learn a new game or play an old favorite. All ages are welcome.

The church will host its monthly movie night from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at the church. This fun and free night includes a family-friendly movie children and adults will enjoy while snacking on popcorn watching the movie on a giant screen.

Little League news

Avoca/Dupont Little League will have its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at the Little League clubhouse, 700 Mill St.

The agenda includes planning for the spring season as well as regular league business. Anyone interested in coaching, volunteering or who has a general interest in the league is welcome to attend.

Online registration for the 2018 spring Little League season will begin Monday, Jan. 1. Any player from last year can register for the upcoming season online at the league website, www.tshq.bluesombrero.com/adll. The cost to register is $65 for one player and $80 for two or more players from the same family. Payment for online registration can be completed using a credit card or by paying in person with cash or check. New players to the league must register in person at one of the upcoming in-person registration dates.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the basement of the Queen of the Apostles Parish rectory, 715 Hawthorne St. Please use the sunroom entrance.

That’s about it for this week, my friends.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Jackie Borthwick-Galvin writes about Avoca every week. To include an item in her column, email jborthwickgalvin@pittstonprogress.com or call 570-301-2171 by noon Sunday, Dec. 24.