This morning's Sunday School lesson was about The Greatest Gift.......Jesus....as in Baby Jesus. As the "shepherd" (small group leader) I was to start my group talking about a time when they received some great news. There was one little boy sitting off by himself....who we learned earlier was a first time visitor to our church.....so I asked him to come join our group. He seemed like the quiet type and my group was made up of 3 little girls and 6 rowdy boys already. What's one more, especially if they're the quiet type?
I'm talking about great news....and I hear a little side conversation going on beside me. This is not unusual.....the room gets very loud with several small groups all talking at once. But all of a sudden I hear......
Rowdy Boy: THERE IS TOO A SANTA CLAUS!
New Boy: NO, there isn't. Never has been.
Rowdy Boy: YES! THERE IS TOOOOOO.
Me: Hey guys, can you tell me about a time you got some really great news? (Talking to the two arguing ...trying to deflect and keep moving....)
Rowdy Boy: He said there isn't a Santa Claus.
New Boy: Because there isn't.
Me: (to the Rowdy Boy) Hey, why don't you come over here and sit closer to me. (he scoots over...then I whisper to him) Listen, my family believes and your family believes but maybe his family doesn't believe. So let's just not talk about that right now. Okay. So today we are going to hear a story of the greatest.......
New Boy: Santa never existed.
Rowdy Boy: YES HE DOES!!!
New Boy: Nope, he doesn't.
Wow....they are not letting this go. At this point, I can't believe the other kids aren't in on this....I think it was because they were all talking, too. I had lost all of their attention by now.
I separated the two boys in my circle....we moved on to watch the Large Group teachers put on a play/lesson. After the lesson, I spoke to New Boy off to the side while the others were doing their craft. I explained that some families believed in Santa and some celebrated Christmas with different traditions.
Me: I know you don't believe in Santa but some children do so let's just not talk about it right now....it's upsetting Rowdy Boy. Do you have a Christmas tree up in your house?
New Boy: No, we don't celebrate like that. We don't give gifts either. We choose a family and pray for them.
Me: Alrighty then. That sounds good. (what could I possibly say?)
This situation was NOT in the training manual....and these were not my own children.
Really, you can not discuss Christmas without kids talking about Santa. And our lesson today was very clear about the Baby Jesus being the most important part of the season. But they are children and this Santa is a huge deal to them.
I felt a little sorry for New Boy. It sounds like his family are good people. But no Santa? Rowdy Boy would have none of that! He may end up being that boy in 5th grade who gets made fun of for still believing but today wasn't going to be the day he found out.......nope, not on my clock.