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It’s one of our favorite feast days…the Feast of St. Lucia.  For many years now, our little girls have relished the opportunity to rise early to the warm and comforting scent of baking cinnamon buns or Lussekatter.  Each has taken turns donning the “wreath of candles.”

This morning…was different.  Like last year, we didn’t quite celebrate the “light” coming in darkness…

A weekend storm and subzero wind chills put an unexpected damper on our celebration, but only temporarily.   I arose, in the pre-dawn hours to discover that the house was ridiculously cold.  We’ve been doing our best to cope with two kerosene heaters and a couple of electric heaters, and have, for the most part, been relatively comfortable.  But this was a whole different kind of cold…so cold, in fact that the water pipes were frozen solid.

I scrambled to light the heaters, checked on the children to make sure they were warm…and moved the heaters from room to room to warm the house.  By the time this feat was accomplished it was daybreak.  And I was cold.  Grumpy.  And in no mood to bake our traditional St. Lucia buns…

And then I heard them…little feet upon the stairs.  I saw the disappointment in Abigail’s eyes…the sunlight shining through the window, illuminated her sorrowful face, the cold kitchen and clearly revealed that the oven was not on, nor were there any buns rising on the countertop…

“Mom…did you forget?  Aren’t we going to celebrate?  The sun is already up…”

I tried to explain away the cold, expressing my exhaustion and frustration.  The sink full of unwashed dishes added to my irritation as I realized that not only could I not wash them…I couldn’t even wash my hands.  Or flush a toilet!

The “Gaudete” of yesterday was nowhere to be found.

Isn’t that the way it usually happens?  We take joy where it is most palatable, and by the means and dosages we prefer.  I have such difficulty in making it happen when the going gets tough…but looking into those big, blue eyes I realized I had to put my frustration away…and deal with what we had.

It’s times like these when I’m glad I love Little House on the Prairie…and Ma Ingall’s ingenuity.  I handed out large pans and bowls to the boys and asked them to fill them with clean snow from the many drifts surrounding the house.  And they learned a few principals of physics…the conversion of a solid to a liquid, and just how much snow one must gather to make a gallon of water…a whole lot more than they thought!

Meanwhile, I prepared the rolls and set them to rise on the now warm stovetop.  The kitchen tidied, the scent of baking rolls soon filled the air, and everything began to seem a little bit brighter, a little less cold…a little less frustrating.  My two pretty girls put on their candle wreaths and dresses.  When I suggested that they serve the family downstairs at the dining room table they balked.  They wanted to serve the family as they normally did…in bed.  I just couldn’t limp up the stairs one more time, and Dad was working from home, but the boys were only too happy to be served “abed.”  Candle holder in hand and a hot platter of rolls held aloft, they made their way upstairs, singing ” O Come, O Come Emmanuel…”

Dad and I shared a smile and waited our turn downstairs.  It was sweet…and though not quite the same as in years past, it was still lovely…made lovelier by the extra effort required…

So…it’s 7:00 p.m. and still no water.  And the house is still very cold.  But a couple dear friends dropped off several gallons of drinking water and the smell of chicken and dumplings has taken the place of St. Lucia buns.  My dear husband and sons are out purchasing a heated tape that should, God willing, put an end to our freezing pipe issues…

In the meantime, we praise God for what we have…and are thankful that in the midst of a real trial, we still took the time to see the “light…”  After all, that’s what the Feast of St. Lucia is all about…

Blessings,

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