Another year has passed and the holidays are upon us. Christmas is just around the corner, and families are getting ready to come together and celebrate.

Through the years, Christmas seems to have taken on a different meaning for some people. The true meaning seems to have gotten lost in the commercialism of the season while some retail outlets open earlier, and close later, every year to accommodate the throngs of shoppers looking for the best deal on that special gift.

Shopping and gift exchange may be a big part of the holiday, but too often the emphasis is on “receiving” and not “giving.”

This month, meet some of your neighbors who believe that giving is the best gift of all.

Through the magic of faith, First United Methodist Church of Killeen will once again transform their back lot into the town of Bethlehem on the night that Christ was born. Congregant Bryan Charlton and his army of volunteers continue to improve and evolve the town and the message it conveys by keeping Christ in Christmas, Page 26.

“You’d better watch out; You’d better not cry; You’d better not pout; I’m telling you why,” to borrow a line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” except in this case it’s “Santa Paws is Coming to Town.” Say hello to Anita Baez, a.k.a. Santa Paws. For 20 years, she has been bringing her menagerie of therapy pets to visit the residents of the Western Hills Nursing Home in Temple. Dogs, cats and birds, all obedience trained, are dressed in Christmas costumes and yap, squawk, and meow their way into the hearts of residents. It’s hard not to smile when one of these fluffy furred or feathered good Samaritans flounces or bounces its way onto your lap, Page 11.

Christmas is for kids, and the folks at Hope for the Hungry’s Hope House put that phrase into action to provide Christmas for Kids through their annual family sponsorships. People and organizations can sponsor or adopt a Belton Housing Authority family at Christmas and make sure all the children have gifts under the tree waiting to be opened on Christmas morning, Page 55.

The gift of dance is what the Texas Metropolitan Ballet dance studio is offering to the community this year. Open since July, and owned by internationally acclaimed principal dancer Randall Marks, the company is performing “The Nutcracker” in Killeen and Temple, Page 37.

If the thought of a white Christmas seems a little too cold for you, take a trip to Polynesia with the Sivi Ori Polynesia dance troupe in Killeen and learn about dance, family and their favorite holiday treat, lumpia, Page 43.

For a fun adventure, visit the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm where families can enjoy being outdoors, gift shopping and choosing their own fresh Christmas tree. Afterward, drive back into Elgin for some of Texas’ best barbecue, Page 59.

If you are looking for something to do in Central Texas this holiday season, check out the holiday happenings, Page 31. Every year there are several festivals to attend, from Belton and Temple to Salado, Harker Heights, Killeen and Copperas Cove.

Whichever direction you go this season, take a break, pour yourself a glass or cup of your favorite holiday beverage and enjoy the December issue of Tex Appeal. Wishing you a safe and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Catherine Hosman

Tex Appeal Editor


Catherine Hosman is editor of Tex Appeal Magazine. Contact her at or 54-501-7511.

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