A very merry Christmas to those of you who are, at this very moment, no doubt picking up a last-minute tea cozy for your great aunt Ethel! Many of us are (whether voluntarily or through coercion) going to be attending a service at a house of worship this evening, so that tomorrow we can spend the morning sinning like there’s no tomorrow. For tonight, however, here are a few helpful tips on how to behave yourself at Christmas Eve service!
1) Leave your cell phone and your camera in the car. Not only does Jesus not know how to text, but there will be plenty of time after service to take pictures of the lovely poinsettia display. Every time your stupid flash goes off and lights up the whole altar like you’re at a Giants game, God gives Kim Kardashian more money.
2) You can pick one: boobs or legs. Not both. If you’re doing both, you are either going to your junior prom or you are modelling for Terry Richardson. If your dress is too short to kneel in comfortably, it is not appropriate church attire. God already knows what your snatch looks like.
3) If you need to open a lozenge/Hostess Twinkie/bag of fried pork skins, treat church as you would a movie and kindly open them before the main event begins. Ideally, you would suffer through that particular 45 minutes of your life without needing to lubricate your esophagus, but I understand that all that prayin’ can be a strain.
4) If you arrive early, you’ll probably want to claim the place of honor in the very back pew, as far away from the action as possible, so as to shield yourself from the onslaught of wonder and joy. Tonight, shake it up a little and sit in the front. This will alleviate any temptation to apply makeup, play Gameboy or do your taxes during the service.
5) Perhaps you are considering bringing your darling offspring to church with you this evening. It is not too late to invest in a good-quality leash, just in case! Some of them even come with a nice, secure muzzle. They also work wonders on husbands and in-laws who cannot keep their fat mouths shut during the sermon.
6) It is frowned upon to put anything other than money in the collection plate, especially the odd IOU here and there. Other inappropriate offerings include but are not limited to the following: bags of roasted nuts, gift cards to Texas Longhorn Steakhouse, and Precious Moments figurines.
7) No riffing during “Angels We Have Heard on High.” You’re not Beyonce. Unless you actually are Beyonce, in which case, may the Dark Lord keep you in this time of glorious winter.
8) I know it’s midnight, but have that extra cup of coffee before you leave the house if you think there is danger of falling asleep during the sermon. It can also be good to snag an aisle seat in the sanctuary, so that if necessary you can pop on over to the baptismal font and splash some water on your face. Trust me, it’ll be refreshingly holy.
9) If they pass out lit candles during the final carol, do be careful. Keep the flame away from your hair, your cashmere sweater, your neighbor’s hair, and any Bibles that may be lurking in the immediate vicinity. Also, keep it away from your face. All that Johnny Walker you put in your eggnog may make your breath highly flammable.
10) Finally, I know that the communion wafers are flavorless. They are supposed to be the body of Christ, and as we all know, Jesus was a white man from Oxford, so they are understandably bland. But for sweet mercy’s sake, do not, however badly you want to, bring your Sabra red pepper hummus up to communion with you for dipping. Take it from me – people are liable to become extremely jealous, and last time I tried it, the vicar himself had to be restrained, wafer in hand, from diving face first into my container of baba ghanoush.