Saturday at 2 p.m., we are hosting our second annual Home for the Holidays Winter Celebration of Family and Friends at the Civic Theatre. It’s our open house, featuring free films (the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the 1938 holiday classic film A Christmas Carol), prizes courtesy of Play It Again Kids, and a visit by Santa Claus, of course. Our doors are open to everyone, and in addition to free entry, bring a donation for Nelson Food Cupboard and we’ll give you a free mini-popcorn in return!
This event is really special for us. It gets to the heart of why the Civic Theatre was re-opened, and why it’s so critical that the society continues to simultaneously operate the theatre, work on our plans to add two more screens, and diversify and deepen the ways that we partner with people and groups in our region to have the greatest possible impact on our community overall.
Broadly speaking, as a society our purposes are to show films, educate the public about cinema arts, and preserve and improve our facility, but really, these activities are ultimately all about the same thing: sharing. Seeing a film together, learning together, caring about our theatre together — these are shared experiences. The act of sharing our anticipation of something, enjoying it with other people, and having conversations about it afterwards speak to some of the most basic and visceral community-building things that we can do.
I’ve had bit of a fascination with the story of Roseto, Pennsylvania for a while. If you’ve not heard of it before, Roseto is a small Italian-heritage quarry town that drew the attention of scientific investigators in the 1960s because people pretty much only died of old age there. They also had no crime and very few requests for social assistance. Even more astonishingly, this was a community that drank wine, smoked cigars, and fried their meatballs in lard. So what was it that kept them so healthy? It turns out it was family ties and community relationships. They were nourished by the people around them.
I thought of Roseto after our annual general meeting at the end of November. At that meeting, a number of our most passionate and committed members joined us to hear about our last year and ask questions about the plans we have for the future. It was a great time for us to hear feedback from our members, and while we were there to share updates with our members, I feel like I may have learned as much or more about our non-profit society than our members in attendance.
The passion and commitment to the theatre society and our purposes that our members brought to that meeting was a clear reminder to me of just how vital our work at The Civic is for our community. We are so grateful to everyone who took the time to come, to share their thoughts and questions with us. We are indebted to all of you who continue to renew your memberships — it is so important to the continued vitality of our independent cinema in Nelson. It is this commitment to our goals by people in our community that nourishes this organization and ensures our prosperity in the future.
Home for the Holidays is special because it is a celebration of community — an acknowledgement of the people who are close to us, not only here at the Civic Theatre, but between us all. I invite you to come see Charlie Brown and his droopy little Christmas tree that we love so much, and watch Ebenezer meet the ghosts who show him why his true wealth is to be found in his community. Join us at The Civic this holiday season, where we, much like the people of Roseto, take a page from Mr. Dickens to “honour Christmas in [our] heart[s], and try to keep it all the year.”
Eleanor Stacey is the executive director of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.