okay, we got the Santa photos done, now on to the rest of Christmas.
first off Christmas Eve was great. My church does four services.
- a 4:00 kids service (usually a drama or something that kids will love)
- a 5:30 traditional with candle-lighting, choirs, advent wreath, etc
- a 7:00 contemporary
- and an 11:00 traditional.
Martin had to be available to work the 5:30 and the 11:00. Now I knew we weren’t going to keep Ginny up till the 11:00 service, even though that one is my favorite, so we planned to go to the 5:30 with the whole family (including my parents, my niece and hopefully my brother). It turned out to be just myself, Martin and Ginny, but we ran into some friends and ended up sitting with them. The service was lovely, Ginny enjoyed the candle lighting very much – even though I wouldn’t let her touch the flame.
The “O Holy Night” solo was done by our assistant choir director Blair Brawner and it was gorgeous. It wasn’t as technically perfect as some I have heard, but it was beautiful. Even the one time her voice broke…it just made it more of a human sharing moment rather than a performance.
The real highlight for me came after the service was over. You see I had to go up to our pastor and apologize…. For wearing a Santa hat all during the service.
??? Why was I wearing a Santa hat to a church service when I don’t believe in Santa?
Well I was wearing it initially because I was just being silly. Martin wears his a lot, and Ginny looked so cute in hers, so I was wearing mine to fit in with my sweet, silly family.
But then, on the way into the sanctuary, I passed by one of the outer doors, the one right next to the “hats, mittens & scarves tree” This is a 9 foot tall Christmas tree that the members of our church decorate with brand new hats, mittens and scarves all through-out the holiday season.
As I was passing that entrance a blast of cold air hit me. Really cold air.
I turned around.
there coming in the door was a woman and three kids.
all in shirt sleeves.
I smiled and said “Hi! Welcome!”
She smiled back, glanced at my hat and then at the tree.
“Do you know how we could get a hat or a coat for my kids?”
At which point I realized that I didn’t have a clue how those hats, mittens & scarves were going to be distributed. They disappear every year after Christmas, but I had no idea where they went. To the Co-op? To a shelter? I had no clue.
“Tell you what, I’ll find out how we can get you some of those hats and stuff. I know just who to ask, okay?” I said.
“How will I find you?” she asked, as people jostled us apart.
without missing a beat I said “I’m probably the only person in that sanctuary wearing a Santa hat. I won’t take it off till you find me again and I promise I’ll have an answer for you”
So I asked around, and finally the pastor told me “you just march her right up to that tree and let her have whatever she needs.”
Well thanks to the Santa hat, we re-connected after the service and as I was walking her and the kids to the tree I figured I should make conversation…so I asked
“Have you ever been here before?”
“Well no, not to a service.” she said “But we come to your Journey to Bethlehem thing every year, so I knew you were nice people”
That was worth every weird look I got for wearing the Santa hat during the service, and every time I have had to explain to my boss why I need those days in December off every year to put up Bethlehem sets and then take them down again. Not to mention all the rehearsals.
So thank you to the people at SUMC who gave hats, mittens and scarves. And to all the folks who work hard to make Journey a reality each year – it is worth it. We are reaching people. People who sometimes need hats, scarves and mittens.
and I dare say, that is a fitting way to celebrate the birth of the Savior.