The Staffordshire Sentinel asked me for some stories from parish life at Christmas for a piece on Saturday (Christmas Eve). Not so easy! I've no "Vicar of Dibley" stories about Christmas Dinners, nor can I think of funny incidents at Christmas Services (though there must have been some). However, here are a few things I did think of.
(Photo - Sacred Heart in the snow, 18th December 2011 © Peter Weatherby)
My 6 year old granddaughter said to me recently, "Grandad ... I know who you really are!"
A bit surprised, I said to her, "Who am I then?"
She said to me "Well, you've got a fat belly, and a white beard, and I've seen a lot of presents in the room upstairs."
"… YOU'RE SANTA CLAUS!".
I was lost for words.
Then she added, "Please ... will you come to my house first on Christmas Eve?"
I've often been asked to play Father Christmas at schools. I've always been reluctant to do so for a very good reason.
Many years ago I was asked to be Father Christmas for a party at a local primary school. I wanted to be nice and friendly and helpful, but I felt very self conscious as I put on the costume somewhat awkwardly (it was a bit small), and the false beard was uncomfortable (It was necessary equipment, because in those days my own beard was brown and not white).
When the signal came, I walked out into the school hall. There was a moment of hush, then suddenly one of the children shouted out "it's the church man!".
My cover was blown.
I never played Father Christmas again!
A few years ago, I baptised 12 children at Sacred Heart, Hanley on Christmas day.
It was during the main mass of Christmas morning. I thought it would be a charming and appropriate way to celebrate the birth of Christ.
However it was totally chaotic, hectic, and difficult to manage! The children were noisy, the families confused and the congregation perplexed!
Before even the service was over, I decided never to do this again!