Imagine if one night a year, your church held a special service and when you walked in, they gave you a Ninja Throwing Star. That would be a nightmare right? Just throwing stars stuck in hymnals and Bibles and legs as far as the eye could see. It would be a bloody mess. But it’s not that different from what a lot of churches do on Christmas Eve when they give everyone hand flames.
Singing a few songs by candlelight is honestly a really beautiful experience, but it’s also funny. The other 364 days of the year, parents work diligently to keep their children away from torches. We put covers on our electrical outlets, hide matches and lighters in hard to reach places and yell if they get anywhere near a hot oven. But on Christmas Eve, it’s fire time.
Here are a few ways to multiply the fun of having a lit Christmas candle in a church setting:
1. Pretend it’s the Olympic Torch.
I’ve always admired the guy that demands to be the last person clapping in church. While the rest of the congregation has gone quiet, he throws in one more clap, as if to say, “There, I put the punctuation on that clapping session. Done and done.” But that guy has nothing on “last man standing” during Christmas Eve service. See how long you can keep that candle lit. Pretend it’s the Olympic Torch. Be the last one standing in the aisle with a proud flame of “refuse to blow this candle out” while everyone else is gathering their coats. If someone asks you to blow it out, say, “We’re out of fire at home, I need to save this.”
2. Get the “Christmas Eve Service Candle” App for your iPhone and hold that up instead.
I don’t know if they have this yet for the iPhone but if they don’t, you’re welcome, I just made someone a billion dollars. Think about it, they already have DVDs that make it look like there’s a beautiful fire blazing in a fireplace on your television. Why not an application that flickers and shimmers like a church Christmas Eve service candle? Then, instead of a fire hazard, you could hold up your iPhone and sing by the light of your app. That’s even better than Festivus.
3. Blow out other people’s candles.
I don’t think I have to explain this one, but I promise, it is delightful. My brothers and I turned this into an art, because you can’t just come on out and blow it. You have to do this weird, breathe out of the side of your face, move in which you send a gust of wind with the accuracy of a sniper at someone else’s candle.
4. Play with the wax.
In addition to melting your candle on the shoes of family members, it’s also fun to see how long you can get the wax without it breaking off. You have to hold it at the right angle though. It has to be tilted enough to make it all pool like one of those stilagtitesdifficulttospellcorrectly things in caves but not so tilted that the weight of the wax breaks it off.
5. Try to keep the candle.
As soon as that last song is finished, it’s like the spell that convinced your parents it was OK for you to have fire in church is broken. And it’s nearly impossible to keep the candle. Trick #1 was about keeping the fire, which sounds like a song Patrick Swayze sang in the 80s. I’m talking about keeping the actual candle. I never actually executed this move, it’s like the holy grail of candle tricks. There are three people you need to watch out for: Your parents, the ushers and that guy with the box that collects them all at the end. I don’t like that guy. I think all that power went to his head. He didn’t just consider himself the “guy with a candle box,” instead he was always kind of smug and seemed to think he was the “gatekeeper of flame.”
Those were my tricks, but I am certain that when it comes to giving kids torches, I have missed quite a few.