Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to my youth work I’ve made some clangers! Hopefully by reproducing them here, it may give you a bit of a laugh and help you to avoid doing the same thing.
Mistake #11: (Almost) Ruining Christmas
Each year our church hold a very short (45 mins) service on Christmas Day which involves a few carols, the kids each sharing about a gift they were given, and a quick presentation reminding people about the reason for our celebration: the birth of Jesus.
A few years back I was asked to do “the talk” for the Christmas Day service and prepared what I thought would be a fun and engaging few minutes. I planned to do the brilliant chocolate sprouts illustration followed up by a funny anecdote about Christmas. Turned out, it wasn’t that funny to some people…
The story I told was of a friend of mine who had accidentally put his foot in it at Christmas time. At a kid’s event, my friend had noticed a young lad who was not engaging with the current activity so went over to ask if he was ok. The boy quietly shared the burden he was carrying, that he knew that Father Christmas wasn’t real. Realising there was no use trying to persuade him otherwise, my friend gently said, “You’re right, he’s not real” before adding “It’s just like the Tooth Fairy”. At that moment, a look of horror swept over the child’s face as he cried out “Not the Tooth Fairy as well!”
Obviously, it’s a humorous and true story that I took great pleasure in telling that Christmas morning. Unfortunately it never occurred to me that in retelling that tale in front of numerous families with young children, that I would effectively be making the exact same mistake as my friend in the story and putting my foot right in it. Although I never explicitly stated that Santa wasn’t real, the implication from the story was that both he and the Tooth Fairy are fantasy figures – something that parents aren’t too keen to hear mentioned in front of their children on Christmas Day!
A couple of people were understandably very upset at the time and I was told that I had ruined Christmas. Thankfully, most people were fine about it and many, many people still lovingly remind me of it to this day – much to my embarrassment.
So what about you? Have YOU ever said something publicly that you later regretted? Have you ever told a child that Father Christmas isn’t real? What happened? Share with us in the comments!