“For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute, candles in the windows, carols at the spinet…”

But then there are the parents.

“The month before Christmas is always so crazy and busy that parents need a little break more than ever, and we thought a chance for parents to get shopping done — without youngsters there to peek and ruin surprises — would ease some of the stress of the season,” said Chatfield Lutheran Church’s (CLC) pastor, Nissa Peterson. “Kids always love a chance to get together and play games, especially when there’s an indoor space to use when weather is icky.”

Peterson is inviting any harried parent to set their Christmas-anxious children free at the church for the CLC Kids’ Club and take a solo trip to town to get errands and shopping done this Saturday, Dec. 2, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

She continued, “December gets hectic fast. A chance early in the month to get ahead on chores and errands is helpful for parents. In the past, we offered a similar babysitting activity, but the shorter timeframe didn’t allow for running up to Rochester and back. We are hoping that parents will bring their kids for the timeframe that works for them.”

The youth at CLC will be in charge of the fun and games, and adults will be present throughout the day.

“The youth at CLC really love the chance to run around the building playing games, and they are super-excited to share that with the kids who come,” Peterson added. “When the weather is too icky to be outside, it is awesome to get a chance to run around. And for the grownups, it’s same as for the kids — running around playing games, just being together without anything they need to do…just having fun.”

The project is a means of providing a service to the community and also a way to raise funds for an upcoming youth trip for 18 students and five chaperones.

“Kids of any age are welcome. Even for kids old enough to stay home by themselves, hanging out at church with friends and fun games will be enjoyable,” she said. “The day will have a whole range of fun activities — movies, ‘Capture the Flag,’ board games, crafts and reading books together will keep everyone active and laughing. Kids can choose the activities they prefer, and add in lunch and snacks, and everyone will have a blast.”

Peterson quipped, “Even ladies looking to get their husbands out of the house for a day are welcome to drop them off.”

All of the money raised goes to support the church youth who are traveling to the National Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas, next summer.

“Our trip to Houston will include a chance to worship with 30,000 other youth, do service projects for the people of Houston and learn about our faith,” Peterson said. “There are 18 youth going to the Youth Gathering, from eighth to tenth grade, and we’re lucky enough to have five parents coming along on the trip as well.”

Peterson shared the Kids’ Club’s particulars, citing that the church will provide snacks and lunch for the older youngsters, but for infants and toddlers, it’s BYOB.

“We will provide snacks and lunch. Babies and toddlers needing special milk or formula should bring that along, but we will provide a healthy, kid-friendly meal at lunchtime and morning and afternoon snacks,” she said. “Parents and guardians who drop off kids will be asked to fill out a form with contact information and any helpful information about their child, as well as sign a waiver. We will make sure parents have the contact info for the church as well.”

The pastor observed, “Chatfield Lutheran recognizes that life is difficult for families with so much scheduled time in their lives. This offers a chance for kids to come together for unstructured play, to build relationships with older youth who can act as mentors, and offers parents a chance for a little bit of Sabbath rest. We also want to show everyone from across the community that ALL people are welcome in this place. Nobody needs to be Lutheran or Christian to participate in this — we will welcome you and show you love and respect no matter who you are or what your background is.”

Peterson concluded, “We are asking for a minimum $4 per hour donation, and we would appreciate if parents would sign up in advance by emailing me at nissachatluth@gmail.com or by calling the church at 507-867-4721, though walk-ins are welcome. Everyone is welcome to participate. I’m sure many kids will know each other from school, but this is also a great chance to make new friends.”