We made it.
We had a lovely Christmas, and as I write this I am on my 46th hour of not wearing real pants. Truly magical.
All of the family events, Santa festivities and meals were successes and my children have been (mostly) pleasant this winter break. There was only one major breakdown in the Holt family and it was epic and public: Christmas Eve church service.
I am a born and raised Southern Baptist. I was one of those kids who went on every youth trip, and was at church every time the doors were open. I am raising my children the same way. I teach Sunday school, I volunteer regularly in our children’s ministry and my kids are very involved in what our church has to offer for their respective ages. They are almost always excited to go to church — they have friends there and they have fun.
Like any good Gen Y Christian, I try to balance the magic of Santa Christmas and the reverence of Jesus Christmas. We want our babies to love Jesus like we do, but by golly, we want them to have fun and be happy while they do it.
This is evident in the evolution of Baptist children’s ministry over the last 20 years. When I was a kid, church was fun because my friends were there, but not a lot was done to cater to our need for stimulation and movement. We went to Sunday school, heard a Bible story, did a “craft” (coloring page), then we were expected to sit in “big church” with our parents and be still and quiet even though we couldn’t understand half of what the preacher was saying.
My kids run relays, win prizes, dance and sing at the top of their lungs. And that’s just on Sunday mornings — don’t even get me started on camp! They are absolutely still hearing about Jesus and learning, but in really fun and creative ways. They have their own worship services, so they never have to sit in “big church.”
Which brings us to the Christmas Eve FAMILY service. You know, when everybody and their cousin comes to church at the same time and there’s no childcare or separate service for kids and your kids are so excited for Santa that they are shaking, and maybe grandma has already fed them a few pounds of iced sugar cookies? And don’t forget their lack of practice sitting quietly through a solemn, reverent service.
Friends, I am just enough old school that I’m thinking about having my kids sit in “big church” with us once a month so that when this happens again we don’t act like heathens who have never been made to sit still.
I am certainly not complaining about the Christmas Eve service — it was beautiful and well-executed. It was my children who were the problem.
We were all given candles to hold until the candlelight portion of the service. Dude used his as drumsticks on our neighbor’s leg.
There was Silent Night sung a cappella. Dude sang it falsetto — after everyone else.
There was communion. Our children were loudly asking if they could have some juice too and what was that little cracker thingy.
There was a lot of climbing in and out of the three seats we had for our family of five.
All you parents out there who are balancing the real reason for Christmas with the fun stuff, I feel your pain. We are in a unique age of parenting where we put pressure on ourselves to raise our kids to be respectful, kind and disciplined but we also think they have to have all the magic and fun we can possibly give them, plus some. I’m afraid I sometimes err on the side of more fun, less discipline and it took an extremely embarrassing church service for me to realize that my kids’ bad behavior was probably more my fault than theirs in this case.
So now, I am going to whip these wild heathen children into shape, teach them some discipline… but maybe I should put on some pants first.
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Overheard at the salon: “The best gift I could get would be industrial strength duct tape for certain family members’ mouths at Christmas dinner.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.