NEWPORT — Debra Perrigan learned years ago that it is easy to get so caught up in getting ready for Christmas, that you can miss the true reason for the season.
As a result, Perrigan developed Christmas in November, an event for women to remind them that Jesus needs to be the focus of Christmas and to show them ways to keep Christmas from becoming too stressful.
Perrigan, food service coordinator for Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center and wife of conference center manager Kevin Perrigan, began the ministry while they were serving at a camp in Alabama.
When they moved to Carson Springs 15 years ago, she brought the concept of Christmas in November with her.
“Many times Christmas would come and go, and I would miss Christmas because I’d be so tired or grumpy or caught up in all the stuff that we thought we had to do for Christmas that by the time Christmas came, I missed the whole season,” she recalled.
Christmas in November is designed to help women learn to have a less stressful Christmas so they can focus on what’s really important, Perrigan noted. Too often, “people get so caught up in gift shopping or decorating or ‘trying to keep up with the Joneses’ that it takes our focus off the real reason for Christmas — and that is Christ,” she said.
Perrgian noted there is a different theme for the event each year which includes a banquet and speaker and guest worship leader.
The gospel is shared at each event and women are encouraged to bring their non-Christian friends to Christmas in November, Perrigan said.
“We want to get our priorities straight and our hearts straight with God before Christmas so we can really focus on ministering, whether it’s to our children or families or to our neighbors,” she said.
Perrigan has developed a team of ladies who help her with the event. They attend a prayer and preparation dinner about a month in advance of Christmas in November.
“We have learned that anytime you empower women to serve the Lord that Satan really throws a lot of spiritual warfare in our way,” she said.
The ladies each decorate a table for the meal. They have two rules they must follow, Perrigan said. “They can’t go shopping or try to keep up with others in decorating.
“We try to follow the principle of not getting caught up in what is not important and focusing on what really is,” she said.
The event grew so much during the past 15 years that they began a second event on Friday night. COVID-19 hit soon after and they just had one event this November with about 120 ladies in attendance.
The event draws people locally from Newport and surrounding areas as well as from the Tri-Cities, Knoxville and as far away as Nashville and Asheville, N.C., she noted.
Over the years, her two high school daughters, Hannah and Lydia, have become very involved with the event along with some of their friends.
“I hope one day to pass it (Christmas in November) down to them and let them continue it,” she said. B&R — For more information about Christmas in November, contact Perrigan at email@example.com.