I probably should have titled this post "Don't Abuse the Pastor's Wife!" but that's just laughable. No one is ever going to stop and think before they yell at the pastor's wife for something she HAS NO CONTROL OVER! Do you have your hot chocolate in hand? Are you seated in your comfy chair? Ready for a good story? Good. Then I shall begin.
Once upon a time, about 8 years ago, a tradition started at our church. Santa arrived on the last Sunday before Christmas and handed out small gifts to each child in the church. This started after we had left for Hubby to attend the Most Expensive Seminary in the World and before we returned for him to become The Pastor. I have been told it started to ensure that a few of the children (who normally went without presents) got something each year. At the time, it was a wonderful gesture and our church could financially afford it. After all, there were only 5 or so kids. But, slowly and with great effort, the church has been growing. There are now about 20 children who attend the "Santa Sunday." Not all of them are seen any other time of the year, but... While our church has been growing, the 150 year old foundation, 75 year old roof and 50 year old heating system all decided to show their age this year and the bills are truly threatening to swamp the church and take it under. There is no money to buy unnecessary gifts for children who already get plenty at Christmas.
Let me stop here to say one thing. The children who come from homes that can't provide Christmas WILL still be taken care of, they will not be forgotten. Hubby always makes sure to get presents for them and delivers it to their houses.
Anywho, the past three years, the "Santa Sunday" has been akin to pulling teeth. We have actually had to go outside of our church to find a man to dress up as Santa (even though we have a suit) because none of the men were willing to do it. The head of the Nurture Committee had to arrange to get all the presents even though she was also singing in the Christmas Cantata, helping me with the children's Christmas program and also doing her own Toys for Tots thing with her school kids. Her plate was full and no one would help her. When we did finally do it last year, she ended up giving about 20 of the 30 bags she had prepared away because so few people actually showed up. It just seemed that "Santa Sunday" had run its course and the time had come to extinguish it.
I am not on the Nurture Committee. I knew about the decision to cancel Santa, and I agreed with it, but I had nothing to do with it. But I knew, oh I knew this was going to come back and smack ME in the face. And it did. And it had to be today, of all days.
For you see, for the first time in a very long time, I finally felt like I was coming to an understanding with Christmas. I hate holidays. I use to love Christmas, but it hasn't held joy for me in a very long time. But this year I felt like I could really appreciate that Christmas wasn't about me. E wants to feed the homeless, which means I have done my job as a mom and given her a real world vision. Hubby and I have no money and very few things, but I am completely okay with that and he says that makes me really hard to shop for, because I don't want anything. So I found a website (The Hunger Site) where you can purchase artisan made crafts and each purchase pays for 25 to 50 cups of food for that country where the craft was made. I went through and picked out some of the things I would like and I FELT GOOD!! I wasn't going to be bogged down with stuff that made me feel, well, bogged down. By this morning I had convinced myself that if I could just make it through the Pastor/Spouse Christmas Party next week, I would be okay and I might actually enjoy this holiday season.
So I was at church today and the kids and I practiced their Christmas program. It's the kids up to age 7, so they are antsy and don't sing when they're supposed to and I'm not sure they're going to do what they are supposed to do, but that was fine with me. I didn't care. I still had my good mood. The woman who forced me to run away from my old blog showed up at church today and cornered me and I was civil and polite. It was all fine, I still had my good mood. And then I talked to the Assassin, also known as the head of the Nurture Committee.
She told me she had been stopped and asked about the Santa Sunday. She told me to tell people that if they wanted to donate, they should donate to the local foster home. We never argue or disagree. Honestly. If anything, we are always this united wall that people find very disconcerting. But I dug my heels in and insisted she send an email around to the church and say that the Nurture Committee had decided not to have Santa this year. I told her to do this because I knew that somehow this was going to come back around and people were going to say that Hubby or I were trying to get Santa out of the church. That WE had cancelled Santa because we have been quite vocal about the consumerism of Christmas. She wasn't happy with me but agreed that she would do it and left. MY VERY NEXT CONVERSATION I was trapped at a table with a very angry man asking me why Santa was cancelled. I tried to explain to him that all of our children receive so much and that the church was in financial straits, yadda yadda yadda. The man started to yell at me and spouted off something about taking chocolate bunnies out of Easter next.
Here is where I have really changed as a pastor's wife. Up until recently, I would have stood there and tried to appease the man. As soon as he started lifting his hands up in my face, I walked away and left him to bluster with the three other people who walked up to join him in his anger. I walked away, but OH, I was seething inside. I was just mad all around. It was just wrong on so many levels. Here I was getting yelled at IN CHURCH because SANTA wasn't showing up. SANTA? Should Santa even BE in church? Excuse me, but can you please point out in the nativity where Santa is standing, because I sure haven't seen that bowl full of jelly belly standing out by the shepherds. And then the fact that I have NOTHING to do with the Santa decision. Nothing. The man was yelling at the wrong person. Although he had no reason to yell at all. But now he has a small Santa army on his side and it looks like this is going to be the next be debate in the church. How's that for irony? Hubby is going to have to fight the battle as to whether or not a church needs a Santa.
For crying out loud. Whatever happened to "Hey, unto you a child is born!"?