Sisters and their mom take Chi Omega tradition virtual to keep it going
When Savannah Eidson Near talks about helping with the Chi Omega Christmas Market her whole life, she’s not exaggerating much.
“Does time in-utero count? I have been attending the market since I was a baby,” the 30 year old said. “Growing up, I would go with my mom to her volunteer shift, and then we would shop afterward. I loved sampling all of the treats.”
Likewise, her 38-year-old sister made many childhood market memories before becoming a regular volunteer as an adult. For example, she and her brother modeled during a 1985 style show.
“My mother loves telling the story of us coming out on stage, in our adorable outfits, and my brother throws all the teddy bear décor off of the stage, and I burst into tears,” Taylor Eidson Wood said. “That was probably the beginning of the end of my modeling career.”
This year, the sisters and their mother, Jana Beth Eidson, 64, are the co-chairs for a version of the market that should prove much different than its many predecessors. Instead of filling Centennial Hall at Fair Park, the market, which dates back to 1978, will occur online because of concerns about the pandemic.
“I am thankful for the technology that allowed us to pivot to a format so we can still support our beneficiaries, as well as give our merchants a revenue stream,” Eidson said.
“It takes thousands of volunteer hours to put together the Chi Omega Christmas Market and its worth every one of them.”Taylor Eidson Wood
Going virtual opens opportunities for shoppers and merchants far from Dallas, the co-chairs said. Expect Zoom calls between virtual booth operators and customers.
Nevertheless, the women will miss the in-person experiences.
Near and Wood had planned to recreate the Sisters duet from the movie White Christmas at the preview night party.
“Alas, we will have to save our matching baby blue dresses and feathers for another time,” Near said.
“I will miss seeing all of our shoppers, our merchants, and my Chi Omega sisters in person,” Wood said.
“I’ll miss all the Christmas trees, booths, and red aprons, as well as the excitement of the shoppers,” Eidson said.
One reason for always volunteering with the market is the opportunity to connect with her sorority sisters.
“That gives me a chance to keep up with them in this busy, fast-paced world,” Eidson said. “We don our red aprons at the show and visit with each other as we take up tickets and answer shoppers’ questions.”
Another reason, the co-chairs said, is the good accomplished by raising more than $9 million through the years for various nonprofits. Supporting and serving others is a Chi Omega mission.
“The Market lives out that charge,” Near said. “From mental health to foster care to fighting breast cancer and breaking cycles of abuse and poverty, our beneficiaries are leading the charge on the frontlines to better the community.”
Volunteers spend all year choosing beneficiaries and lining up merchants, entertainment, food, and décor, Wood said. “It takes thousands of volunteer hours to put together the Chi Omega Christmas Market, and it’s worth every one of them.”
Jana Beth Eidson
Family: husband Jim, children Taylor, Grant, and Savannah
Career: Teacher (presently the garden teacher at Armstrong Elementary)
School: Stephen F. Austin State University
Taylor Eidson Wood
Family: husband Ryan, daughter Grace (Chi Omega 2038)
Career: Stay at home mom
School: Baylor University ‘05
Savannah Eidson Near
Family: husband Andrew, dog Luke
Career: Counselor at Park Cities Child and Family Counseling
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