Sunday, January 18, 2015

Silent Night

I mentioned in my last post that I had a bit of a "moment" during the Christmas Eve family church service. It was something pretty special to me, so I wanted to document it here.

As is tradition, at the end of the service we sang "Silent Night" by candlelight. This is my favorite moment of the entire church year, and every year that candlelit carol moves me to tears. As soon as the lights dim and the tune starts, I am taken back to my childhood in Parma, Ohio, where young me is trying to keep the dripping candle wax from burning my fingers while my grandfather leads the service. Over the course of those three lovely verses, my mind flashes through my lifetime of Christmases between then and now, and I am overcome with emotion of all kinds. I am nostalgic for the happy Christmases past and long for days gone by. I miss my childhood home in Ohio. I miss the days before my parents divorced. I miss lost family members and far-away friends. I long for our old home in New York. I think fondly of my past and my heart aches at the realization that all those happy memories are, in fact, just memories.

At the same time, however, my heart rejoices at the very idea that I have so many happy memories to miss. I have lived in wonderful places and known extraordinary people. I have loved and been loved, I have cherished my years with my family, I have tried to remain present and take advantage of opportunities and appreciate my many blessings. I have known such great happiness thus far in my life and I am very thankful.

It is a funny thing, to be so overcome with such a range of emotion all in just one instant, and most years I just close my eyes and let myself feel it - the simultaneous aching and rejoicing in my heart, and the ensuing lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It's almost a sort of therapy.

This year, however, I didn't want to close my eyes. Instead, I kept them open and let my thoughts look to the future. Primarily, I watched my babies in the pew beside me. E.J. was staring intently at the candle in Eric's hand, seeing all this beauty for the very first time. Ellie was also mesmerized by the candle, desperate for her opportunity to hold it herself. How lucky am I to be exactly where I am at this moment! And what promise the future holds! Here are my children beside me, experiencing all this - this tradition that I have cherished for my lifetime - as brand new. I thought of how magical this Christmas has been with them, and how many more we have together, and how lucky I am to have them mirror these moments back to me. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to create and share in their Christmas memories, and to have them give new meaning to my own. So instead of closing my eyes and losing myself in the past, I kept them open and soaked in the present moment. And it was beautiful.

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