Funkstown has been home to Irene Owens since 1973. About 12 years ago, she joined the town's Olde Tyme Christmas committee, after hearing about it from a new neighbor who was on the panel.
This year, the town will celebrate Old Tyme Christmas on Friday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. Residents are encouraged to deck the halls for the house-decoration contest, and businesses are open that evening.
After joining the holiday committee, Owens, 74, who took up cross-stitching about 17 years ago, donated a Christmas-themed, cross-stitched piece that was raffled.
Cross-stiching is a popular form of needlework.
"I love to cross-stitch. One year I suggested doing one, and now I do it every year — my choice," Owens said.
Owens' annual homemade holiday scene gets framed and matted.
The owners of the framing business that was in Funkstown donated the framing until about three years ago. Since then, Rich Gaver, who helps coordinate Funkstown's Christmas event, has done the framing.
"He's a jack-of-all-trades. He's very good at woodworking. He always seems to pick the right wood for the frame," Owens said.
Owens said she cross-stitches when she's watching TV in the evening. This year's piece took about two months and 150 hours to complete.
"It's very relaxing. Other types of sewing I'm no good with at all," Owens said.
She used to knit, but eventually gave it up, because she preferred cross-stitching. Owens gets most of her patterns from magazines she subscribes to.
This year, instead of raffling off Owens' work, they're going to try auctioning it.
"We've never done that before. I'm a little nervous about that. I told my boys they had to come and bid in case no one bids. They said 'Oh, Mom'," Owens said.
She has two sons, two granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.
The proceeds go to the Olde Tyme Christmas fund, which helps pay for the luminaria that light up the town, as well as other expenses.
"We don't have a large committee, but everybody on the committee does their part. It really works out ...," said Owens of the seven-member team.
Planning for Olde Tyme Christmas begins in September. "Rich and Rose (Gaver) are fantastic. It's not just that night. There's so much (that) goes on behind the scenes," Owens said.
The Washington County native, whose maiden name is Huyett, was born and raised in Hagerstown and graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1955. She and her husband of 54 years, Ed Owens, had lived on Maryland Avenue for 18 years prior to moving to Funkstown.
"I lost my husband two years ago in January. Last year was not so good," Owens said.
She tries to stay busy, and her dog Abby, a Chiweenie (part Chihuahua, part Dachshund), a rescue from a puppy mill, keeps her company.
Olde Tyme Christmas includes a craft show featuring 26 tables of craft vendors. It will be held in the lower level of the Funkstown Fire Co., near the Firehouse Grill where a hot roast beef dinner, steamers, hot dogs, soups and desserts will be for sale.
Down the street at Funkstown Town Hall, there will be a children's ornament decorating contest, a piano recital by young musicians, the annual commemorative ornament for sale, wagon rides, auction of Owens' needlework and the original print of the ornament design, refreshments and a place to visit Santa.
"It's usually a wonderful turnout. The weather doesn't usually cooperate, but the show goes on," Owens said.