It is St. Lucia’s Day, the day the poet John Donne called “the year’s midnight.” It is a short, dark day even here in Florida, thanks to a windy, rainy nor’easter.
The firstborn and I are determined to mark the day as they would in Sweden. Whether this is because of our drop of shared Swedish blood, or because we are firstborn girls, I’m not sure. But, we do it.
We make a crown: soft wool felt for the evergreen leaves, battery-powered candles for the light. She lays out a white nightgown and red ribbon sash while I set her alarm clock. She’s never used an alarm clock, and I must show her three times how to turn it off. She practices her lines for me one more time: “St. Lucia invites you to breakfast!”
We forego the traditional saffron buns, but the gingerbread cookie replacements are prepped and waiting on a tray.
“Goodnight, Lucy/Lily,” I say, as I shut her bedroom door on the eve of Lucy’s day.
Tiptoeing through the dark hallway, straining my eyes to avoid the Lego casualties scattered across the tile, I remember how dark my days were before this girl. Those days of praying and waiting and living without.
I remember, too, how bright the full moon was that winter night when I first knew that she was on her way. Nine years ago it was a bright light of answered prayer, of hopes fulfilled.
It is winter again. I know now that when the days are short and the nights are long, the only right way to see ahead is to look back.
So, I look back and remember: “… weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” Psalm 30:5.