Christmas Eve day was spent baking, cooking, and prepping for Audrey and Andrew to arrive for the night. We noshed on heavy hors d'oeuvre before going to the lessons and carols service at our church.
The service didn't start until 7:30pm, which is already half-an-hour past Ellie's bedtime, but she did pretty well. Pete only had to walk to the back of the sanctuary with her once, but never had to leave. I sang in the choir and was a little sad not to be sitting with my family on Ellie's first Christmas, but had a very small solo in one of our anthems - What is this Lovely Fragrance - and I thought Ellie (and Pete and Audrey and Andrew) would like the surprise of seeing my name in the bulletin.
Singing all the carols and anthems I've sung all my life took on an entirely different meaning this year because it was my first time to know what it is like to look down on my own sleeping babe and feel that life is perfect. I got a little teary-eyed when the women of the choir sang Still, Still, Still. The second verse of "sleep, sleep, sleep, he lies in slumber deep...." gets me every time! If you're not familiar with this lovely German carol, here's a link to the Vienna Boys Choir singing it on You Tube: http://youtu.be/SC1GfEXjaBU
At the end of the service, once the Christ candle had been passed to light all the little hand held candles in the sanctuary we sang Silent Night (pretty standard fare for any lessons and carols service). Thank goodness this was a congregational hymn that we sang while seated (so I was hidden in the choir loft). By the time we got to the third verse with the "loves pure light" part I was crying the big, ugly tears. The combination of being a mother, but no longer having my mother, and having Audrey and Andrew with us, but being far away from my brothers, and Pete not feeling well was just too much for me! I was happy and sad and completely overwhelmed. Then before I knew it it was time to stand up and sing Joy to the World and blow out the candles and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I was so anxious to get out of that choir loft and squeeze my little girl. She really is the only present we needed.