My Yorkshire Christmas - The Reverend Matt Woodcock, Holy Trinity Church, Hull

The Reverend Matt Woodcock, curate and pioneer minister at a Hull church prays for a problem-free Christmas

By the time I get to the Fox Inn in west York to enjoy a pint of Christmas Day bitter with my grandma, I will have sung O Come All Ye Faithful more times than is good for anyone. I will have grown hoarse from explaining the significance of baby Jesus to crowds of schoolchildren wearing tea towels on their heads and worried myself sick about the possibility of a church inferno during our carols by candlelight.

It’s fair to say that Christmas is full-on for those of us who wear dog collars for a living – but I love it.

Christmas at my place of work and worship, Holy Trinity Church in the centre of Hull’s old town, will be even more eventful than usual this year as we attempt to stage a live nativity in the city centre – complete with three real camels, sheep and a donkey.

Members of the local boxing club will play the shepherds, neighbouring publicans will be the innkeepers and we are being inundated with mothers offering their babies to be Jesus. Unfortunately, attempts to track down a pregnant virgin have so far proved elusive.

We hope and pray that our live nativity brings the community together and gives people something deeper to think about than whether the new iPhone 5 is wrapped and waiting under the tree.

If you find putting the decorations up at home stressful, spare a thought for us at Holy Trinity. It’s the biggest parish church building in the UK so the tinsel, baubles and fairy lights are on an industrial scale.

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For our nativity scene, we beg the managers of Hull’s fashion outlets to lend us shop dummies who don’t mind ditching the latest Primark designs to become our Angel Gabriel, wise men and shepherds.

As Hull’s civic church, it’s a real pleasure to provide a venue for the many different schools, organisations and charities to hold their carol services.

Our chapel is also well used in December as many East Yorkshire folk take the opportunity to light candles and pray in memory of loved ones.In all the hustle and bustle of our seasonal activities, I make sure the church organist and I escape to our favourite hostelry to put the world to rights. He deserves a drink after being forced to play Little Donkey 400 times.

However, it’s when I’m with my wife and young twin girls that Christmas really comes alive. We film a music video message to send to our family dotted around Yorkshire. Last year we performed Slade’s Merry Christmas, and this year I’m pushing for some classic Cliff. Another tradition is a night in watching It’s A Wonderful Life followed by hours of festive blubbing.

I’ll also be seeking refuge from the Christmas chaos to think and pray, asking for protection from carols fatigue and camel-related disasters.And if I make it to share that pint with grandma on Christmas Day? Then I really will thank God.

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