Julian Garner was asked by the Communications Team at the Diocese what it was like to be a clergy spouse at Christmas, for their Diocesan magazine ...
am a clergy spouse - married to Rev Selina Garner of Uffculme Parish, with two boys Chris and Matthew currently aged 11 and 14 but both growing up fast!
Christmas is a wonderful season - but a busy one in the Garner household. Uffculme has a tradition of putting up an amazing display of Christmas lights in the village - and putting on a big party at the beginning of December which always gets people into the Christmas spirit.
I help run our Mission Community Men's Beer and Curry night at the local pub each month ... in December that becomes a beer, mince pies and carol singing evening which is also great fun.
I also help with the sound and AV at our church - St Mary's Uffculme - so I get involved with the Carol Services for the primary and secondary schools in the village ... which involve over 1,000 young people across three services. We then have our Church Carol Service and of course the 'scratch' Nativity Service on Christmas eve which is normally mayhem! One year I was carefully following Delia's 'count-down to Christmas' and was doing some pre-emptive sprout peeling on Christmas eve when Selina walked in and casually asked "the nativity service starts in an hour ... could you build us a stable?" After several deep breaths I said I would see what I could do! Luckily I had some timber put aside for just such an emergency and managed to create a stable - of sorts - at the front of the church! I then resumed Delia's count-down, getting to the all important glass of sherry, although I prefer a cold beer!
Rev. Selina learnt lots of things during ordination training but cooking wasn't one of them, so the kitchen is now my domain. We often offer open house over Christmas so the main challenge is not knowing how many people to expect and, although our boys sometimes hanker for an 'ordinary' Christmas, we have all been greatly blessed by people who have shared our home at Christmas.
So Christmas is a busy time, but also a very special time to celebrate God's extraordinary gift to the world. So...the two most important tasks of a clergy husband? Putting out the carrots for Santa's reindeer and making sure there is a cold bottle of fizz in the fridge for the vicar when she finally takes off her clergy collar and sits down for Christmas lunch!"
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