Darlings, its’ time to play “Let’s Pick Each Other’s Brains!”
I’m interested in hearing what you do around your church office this time of year in terms of gift exchanges. We’ve talked a bit about this in the past but it’s been awhile, so let’s hear from you!
Senior ministers/lead pastors: do you buy gifts for your staff? If so, do you get everyone the same thing, limit the dollar amount, do secret Santas, take everyone out for a meal, what?
Did you ever explicitly talk about gift exchanging with your folks or do you just go ahead and do it?
Do you share conviviality with parishioners in their homes at the holidays? Does this ever open you to accusations of having “favorites” if you return year after year to the same home or homes? I’ve seen that happen to ministers and I’ve always thought it was a tricky issue. For my own life, I either don’t accept any invitations or I accept the first one that comes. I don’t get a lot of invitations to the homes of parishioners in the first place because I think they see me as a busy single gal with tons of friends, and that’s very true. I am. That said, it’s lovely to get invites to share meals or holiday spirit with my Dearly Beloveds and I like to do that whenever possible. I was able to attend the women’s Christmas gathering last week for the first time in a million years and it was loads of fun.
One glass of wine is my limit, by the way. I’m silly and irreverent enough stone cold sober. I don’t need to add booziness to that mix. The worst side effect from drinking alcohol for me, though, is that it makes me feel like I can — or perhaps should — eat everything in sight.
A word to the wise: one drink for all of us at any social gathering. And if that’s difficult to stick to, no drinks. Those who are in recovery, have your sponsor on speed dial and do what you need to do to avoid getting into HALT situations (for non-recovery people, that means “don’t get too hungry, too angry,too lonely or too tired”). Wise advice for all of us. For me and food, I replace “angry” with “anxious.” BOY, did I get anxious last night and eat way too much. Ugh.
A frequent reader of this blog thought it was weird that I occasionally go to see movies with my parishioners. Does anyone else ever do this? I am hoping that a huge gaggle of us will go see “Les Miserables” together on Christmas Day (together with some of my non-church friends). Many of my folks love the arts and I love sharing that common source of spiritual sustenance with them. I have seen Live at the Met simulcasts with parishioners, attended the symphony, the theatre, museum exhibits, trashy and serious movies (including important documentaries as a group), and coffeehouse folk concerts with them. These outings open up great conversations and create happy memories. When I appear in a show, dozens of parishioners can be counted on to buy tickets and support my onstage endeavors. When I appeared in “Ragtime” in 2003 and was brand new to the parish, over eighty members of the church attended the production, and often in large groups. I believe that the arts are a soul food that many of us ignore or consider frivolous or elitist. They’re really not. You can informally announce that you’re going to the free museum exhibit on a Saturday afternoon and invite anyone who wants to join you to come along, and you may find a whole new group of parishioners to get to know under very spiritually stimulating circumstances.
Do any of you go Christmas caroling with your church folk? That’s another great one. Easy, bonding, and it creates beauty and joy in the world.
That’s all for now, darlings. Not terribly coherent or profound, just a check-in and a reminder that while you’re collecting canned goods and gifts for foster children and crafting liturgies and picking up candy canes and more Advent candles, let the Muses inspire you to spend some time with them this season.