Two years ago I wrote this post, tears, about Jul Fest at our church and it is one of my most read and shared posts. Reading it now I want to say it all again: how I love our church, how I miss my grandparents, how quickly Anna is growing up, how weepy I still am. Except now she IS the four that I alluded to back then. She WAS a pepparkakor girl this year and even last year at three she was up there singing her little heart out. I will never forget the ladies behind me murmuring about how cute my little just-turned-three girl was walking up there with all the big kids, eyes wide and mouth open. I will always remember her face searching the crowd for mine and her huge, proud grin when our eyes locked. Or the way she broke from the line and ran straight into my arms after she was done. Talk about tears indeed.
This year she had no nap and a meltdown prior to the performance and it was hit or miss whether she would wear the 'gingerbread' costume after all. But we witnessed a Jul Fest miracle and she danced around in a circle with her little buddies - again with the sheepish little grin on her face. And this year Grandpa and Mormor were there to see her. And my heart burst once more.
Both years she sat on my lap to watch the big girls in the Santa Lucia pageant and has talked about it ever since. The girls with the candles, the singing, when is it her turn, does she get to wear a white dress next year? Someday when she's an adult will she be the Santa girl? Will she get to sing in church too?
And I tell her, yes baby girl, you probably will. You'll probably be the Santa Lucia girl someday. Probably the next time I blink.
I cried through the Jul Fest program at church the other day.
I cried watching all the little kids in their costumes singing the cute Swedish songs. Some of these kids I'm getting to know; all of these kids I already love.
I cried looking at the various people from church who played instruments, and sang, and made cookies, and volunteered so many hours and poured their hearts into this concert. I was moved to tears thinking about their devotion and love for our church. I cried because I love these people, and because I love this church.
I cried looking at the faces of dear friends who have made all the difference in our lives this last year and a half. Friends who snuck into our hearts and lives in unexpected ways and make them so much better, fuller.
I was crying because it will only be two years before Anna is up there in a silly gingerbread costume in front of all these people. It's easy to picture her little eager face up there singing her heart out and it's already too much for me to take. She's two too soon and when I blink she will be four and I cry because it's flying by, and life moves so quickly and this is our only shot, our only life and I keep waiting thinking it's supposed to be something more when it is already so much more than enough.
I was moved to tears singing the old swedish hymns thinking how much my grandparents would love Jul Fest and how I should have found a way to get Grandpa here for it this year. I cried because I miss them, I feel guilty for not seeing them more and because it will be my first Christmas home in Calgary without them. I couldn't control my emotions as a particularly beautiful memory came to mind of when Adam and I drove home from Banff with them one Christmas and sang our favorite hymns together a cappela in the car. I cried because I love them so much, and I cried because for most intents and purposes, Grandma is already gone.
I most definitely cried watching sweet Linnea, a girl from our church with some significant limitations, beaming with delight as she participated in the Lucia pageant. Waving at everyone with such unadulterated joy and pride. She was so poignantly beautiful.
And for sure I cried while we closed the service with Silent Night. Hundreds of voices echoing through the sanctuary that beautiful, haunting carol. Thinking of the many Christmas Eve services at my home church and how incredibly grateful I am for those people and that church and the legacy of faith that I have been gifted with.
I have been crying a lot lately, but mostly tears of joy, or gratitude. Bittersweet tears, many of them. Thankfulness mingling with loss. Relief mingling with grief. A beautiful release.