Now that we’re on the other side of Christmas, it’s time to take stock of what from it will stay with us forever.
You know, like whatever you got at a White Elephant Gift Exchange.
These blind grab-bag style games have become common in church circles around Christmas time. In a nutshell, you get everyone to come together and bring wrapped gag gifts, pick numbers, and then go in order from start to finish of choosing or stealing gifts.
One of the highlights from our church’s party was the “Noah Bear.”
A younger kid got it and has been threatening to hide it in his parents room if they ground him, so that randomly throughout the night it might start talking and wake them up.
Over the years, I’ve gotten a number of amazing-and-weird items from these gatherings… including a full Tigger outfit, a hat shaped like a turkey (that gobbles and moves when you press it), and even a working/portable fireplace.
Anything new on your shelf you could tell us about?
What is the coolest or strangest item you’ve ever seen exchanged at a white elephant gift party?
That’s the typical mantra teenagers are told on their way out of high school.
Some students, apparently, already know this lesson.
Take, for example, the senior class of the Santa Barbara Unified School District. They didn’t just want to settle for the usual class prank. Instead, they hired a Mariachi band to follow their principal around for the day.
This may not be the cheapest prank. Some comments on Reddit.com estimate the price can range between $100-800 per hour based on the band. According to Tody News, Becchio walked into his office at 7:30 a.m. to discover the four musicians who “trailed him around the hallways, drawing smiles from students and faculty.”
Apparently a group of seniors at West Linn High School in Oregon pulled the same prank last yearwhen nearly 90 students pooled their money to have a mariachi band follow principal Lou Bailey around for three hours.
First off, how is this not just amazingly awesome?
Second, think about the appeal of this. It’s a random burst of life that makes an otherwise dull day have greater meaning to it.
When someone gets playfully thrown into a swimming pool on TV, all I can do is worry if they have their cell phone in their pocket… because they obviously don’t.
Maybe I think about these things too much.
It’s why I dream about a TV Special called “Wizard Fight” where David Copperfield, David Blaine and Cris Angel try to make each other disappear.
I once heard that 50,000 TV sets are sold every day in America, and Americans watch 1.5 billion hours of TV each year. That adds up to cumulatively spending more than nine entire years of their lives watching TV in the course of their lifetime. Ever think about what that does to how we see life, let alone the world on the other side of the screen?
According to TV…
All mob bosses prefer to unwind by cooking their own food in an empty restaurant kitchen.
Everyone owns the same alarm clock with that awful sound that never gets turned off.
Capturing and owning other lifeforms (slavery) is okay… as long as they’re Japanese brand pocket monsters.
Really old friends have a hip, complicated handshake.
It’s not at all weird how much time people spend facing one direction standing up in their own homes.
After you shoot all your bullets at Superman, you’re supposed to throw your gun at him.
You can make a date with someone new and know everything about its logistics by simply talking with them and saying, “Great! I’ll see you tonight!”
Every guy in a somewhat soiled white tank-top who’s watching sitcoms in an Archie Bunker style chair is guilty of some sort of crime.
No one during the era of knights and kings ever needed to see a dentist – they all had perfect teeth, except for random characters who only popped up to make a declaration that the beautiful people didn’t like.
All high schools let you eat your lunch outside in an open area where it never rains.
Ninjas, Popes, prostitutes, Buddhist monks – these people can go to work in their pajamas.
40% of all marriages are between two spies.
Vampires, although they can’t see themselves in a mirror, somehow still are able to style their hair into something quite amazing. (Do the vampires help each other out on this?)
No one thinks it’s weird if you’re walking around in public and start singing with your friends to a soundtrack that only you all can hear.
So far, the best thing about the future is that we don’t have to talk on the phone anymore.
There aren’t as many old or ugly people in the planet as there are attractive, coffee-drinking twenty-somethings who feel unlucky in love… and yet are blindly sipping coffee right now with the person they were meant to be with.
The best way to hide after you fake your own death is to just wear a baseball hat, look down a city street, then pull the brim of the baseball hat down over your eyes.
At some point… you apparently get used to zombies roaming the streets.
Ms Piggy is hot. Like, crazy hot. As in, “Don’t ya wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” hot.
We’re actually supposed to care about professional wrestling… and not care that they’re wearing what they’re wearing.
It’s completely acceptable to literally, physically throw anyone named “Jazz” out of your house.
Three out of every four of my friends are gay.
It’s easier to escape spending time at Shawshank the prison than it is to escape spending time with Shawshank the movie.
Most people talk at a speed like an elevator door is closing on the conversation.
Every office has four people who do all the work and 15 people who just walk around playing pranks and eating salads.
What would you add to the list?
Have fun with this… maybe even use it as a discussion starter.
This is a big week for Jimmy Fallon – between taking on the Tonight Show and all the press that’s involved with it.
Critics will be waiting to pounce on him, eager to summarize if he “nails it” or “fails it.”
There will be a lot of leadership lessons for you as you watch it all unfold. As you think about it, share any learning curves you’ve already observed about it (or circle back here throughout the week as you pick up on some more). For example, some people have already made up their mind that “no one will ever compare to Leno.” Have you ever faced that in life, your career or in a ministry as you took over from your successor?
Meanwhile, enjoy this fun riffing that Jimmy and his crew offer on their different church experiences growing up. This dates back to 2011 when Kirk Franklin was to be a guest and Jimmy’s house band The Roots started to play some “Gospel music” with a nod to their understanding of church.
To be clear, I wasn’t actually watching it. It was on in the background.
Nonetheless, it was what it was. My man card was on the line.
So I had to explain why I would never watch Olympic ice skating. (Kudos to anyone who goes into training to do it, but honestly… it just ain’t my thing. I do admire the hockey guys – little known fact: T.J. Oshie’s parents are Rocky and the Statue of Liberty.)
What it did though is get me thinking. As I kept hearing Scotty Hamilton (yes, I know who he is) say the phrase “short program” over and over again, I thought:
“What if the ‘short program’ meant you had to be under 4 feet to compete in it?”
Suddenly, the creative juices were flowing.
What if we could spice up the Winter Olympics in other ways?
Any athlete who publicly endorses Subway must publicly eat a foot-long sub seconds before their event.
All ski poles will now be old Panera baguettes.
While doing their aerobatic spins and turns in the air, snowboarders must quote lines from Seinfeld… without repeating each other.
New sport: the Polar bear dive – who can stay in the longest?
Athletes who have won previous medals must wear them all when competing, like they do in interviews.
Recruit guest commentators from closing time at the local pubs.
No laws or penalties against photo-bombing athletes on the podium during national anthems.
Make all the indoor events outdoor events, and all the outdoor events indoor events.
Bobsled teams are required to ditch their sled and use one of the hotel beds provided for them.
The gold medal winner is decided by callers phoning in their vote.
Reporters and TV crews aren’t allowed to just cover one sport but have to show two competitions in every shot.
Put a concession stand in the middle of the rink speed skaters skate around. Play Frogger soundtrack.
Any sport involving a gun requires participants to wear an Uncle Si “Duck Dynasty” beard.
If the weather is bad, give athletes the option to play an X-Box version of their sport instead.
Provide a highly-caffeinated goalie during Curling… which actually makes more sense than Curling.
For one whole week, only eat the food products that are endorsed by Olympians. Then complain about how you feel.
People watching at home must eat a piece of chocolate whenever they hear a name they could never pronounce, even if they took a Rosetta Stone class to try.
Have Joan Rivers stop athletes on the way in to ask them what they’re wearing.
Require all athletes to take a selfie while performing their sport.
Plant Mr. T and Samuel L. Jackson at the key spot of a snowboarding run. Have them start arguing really loud about tacos, just as each athlete goes up in the air for their big move.
Send a memo to all the athletes before they compete to share how there won’t be any awards given away today. It would read: “Isn’t it best to just know that you’re the greatest in your heart instead of getting a medal?”
When it comes to taking kids to fun places, you might try to “sell” the idea from time to time.
This is usually when you’ll talk about something “amazing” that the kids will get the chance to take part in. For example, maybe you’ll mention a huge roller coaster at the amusement park you’ll be visiting. Perhaps you’ll do what I heard one youth group did – the leaders would regularly dare each other and students at a yearly summer camp to jump off a local cliff and fall 50 feet into some water below.
In retrospect, have there been times where you’ve pumped up the danger a bit? Or in contrast, have you always kept everything safe beyond any measure of risk? I’ve found both can backfire, from kids who think church is too “vanilla” to other students who feel “less than the others” because they didn’t want to take part in something that was beyond their limits.
For example, check out this video of a water slide – any thoughts on if the positives or negatives of planning a trip that hypes this up?
When is it appropriate to involve an element of dangerous fun in your youth ministry?
We’ve all probably heard stories where this went wrong and kids were legitimately hurt through an experience. What about the emotional damage we may not see – where a kid feels lame because they didn’t get up on a high ropes course like the rest of the youth group.
What’s the difference between appropriate fun… and hazing?