If you were to ask any member of the Tattnall family to give you a list of their favorite Tattnall traditions, there is no doubt that Kids Yule Love would rank near the very top. Now in its 30th year, this beloved all-school event has become more than a Christmas program. As any Tattnall Trojan can tell you, Kids Yule Love is the quickest way to jump into the Christmas spirit. On the second Monday of every December, students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni, and community members fill the TSA Athletic Complex eagerly anticipating the joy and spirit that only the Christmas season can bring.
In 1987, Mrs. Shirley Kitchings and Mrs. Ruby Jo Argo, who served as advisors for Student Council and Key Club, sat down with Joe Allen to discuss the creation of a toy drive to benefit Kids Yule Love. “The program that year was very brief. In fact, before Santa was able to bring his sleigh, he would arrive in a little red wagon,” recalled Shirley Kitchings.
Over the years, Kitchings eventually added audience favorites like the K-5 Christmas carols, band performances, the toy parade, TSA Rockettes, senior elves, and of course, Santa’s gag gifts. In 1997, Kitchings began dressing as Mrs. Claus and narrating the drama even helping Santa give out his gag gifts. Each program centers around a specific production like The Nutcracker Ballet, The Polar Express, or The Grinch, to name a few. Though the program varies in details from year to year, the ending always focuses on the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, with a living nativity scene.
“I never dreamed that our first little program 30 years ago would turn into this big production. It’s incredible to me,” smiled Kitchings.
Over the years, Tattnall has remained one of the largest single donors to the Kids Yule Love organization. Thank you to our Tattnall family for continuing to love this Tattnall tradition as much as we do!
Kids Yule Love Fun Facts
- The nativity cast is typically comprised of faculty children and grandchildren.
- In 1997, TSA student Warren Grice built Santa’s sleigh that is still used today.
- MeLisa Clay has helped Santa’s elves with their makeup for longer than she can remember.
- Mrs. Kitchings has written the script and the poems every year since the program’s inception.
- It wasn’t until 1997 that Mrs. Kitchings began reading her own script as Mrs. Claus.
- Kitchings credits her husband, Gene, with making her ideas come to life building sets and running the soundboard each year.
- The program moved to the Athletic Complex in 2005 after Trojan Hall was renovated into a fixed seat auditorium.
- On the morning of Kids Yule Love 2009, the power went out in the entire school. The only location with power was the Athletic Complex where Kids Yule Love would be held that morning.