Nana Joyce was a keeper. A keeper of things for sure (oh, the things!), but of knowledge and memories, too. More importantly, she had this knack for sharing the things she kept at just the right time and in just the right way. It captured your imagination and made you hungry for more.
Such was the case with St. Lucia. When she gave me my first American Girl doll, Kirsten came with the St. Lucia outfit that Nana excitedly helped me change her into. She explained the holiday and our deep Scandinavian roots and how she had always thought it would be so fun to play the part of St. Lucia. “You ARE Lucia for us because you’re the ONLY daughter!” Her eyes sparkled and she smoothed my braids. “Wouldn’t that be fun?”
Sadly, I never played St. Lucia. The thoughts of candles on my head made me nervous and I always managed to remember a day late or not at all. I thought about maybe someday I would have an eldest daughter and then, MAYBE then it’d work out. When I came into the church, celebrating St. Lucy’s feast was a serious bonus. Now I could do St. Lucia for real! When Tess was born it was on my mind and I have been waiting for the day.
It arrived today.
I didn’t tell my little planner until bed time last night because I knew the anticipation would do her in. Not long after they were all tucked in we heard crying from Ellie. I knew her sister was lording her secret over her. How very kind!
Nana Joyce passed on her desire for authenticity and I thought of her this morning as we made muffins from a bag (not even a box! A BAG!) instead of Lussekatter and made do with paper candles atop a pine wreath (Tess+fire+ flammable greenery=DISASTER) .
Upon carrying her out to the kitchen, I explained what we were doing. Her first response? “I need to figure out what I’m going to wear!” She wanted something fancy while I requested traditional. I had thought I’d have time to whip up a white dress for the occasion but we made do with her sister’s too short All Saints costume with a hole in the pit and a red ribbon. Her shins peeking out didn’t take away from the symbolism of purity and martyrdom. I had to steer her away from “clicky” shoes.
In Sweden and Norway and Denmark, the entire population can sing the Lucia songs by heart and the radio plays professional versions. In Casa de Daniel, we substituted O Come, O Come Emanuel because Tess knows it by heart and throws in a little vibrato to fance it up a bit. It managed to wake up the sleepers and rouse the lay-a-beds.
The fresh muffins and fruit were delivered to the grateful (and not so grateful – Philip whined, “I just really like eating at the tay-hay-hay-bulllllll!”) family and our St. Lucia stayed that way all day long.
Nana would have been so proud.