It was Christmas Eve, 2007. The lil' dude was just over two weeks old.
The Dad and I dressed for the holiday church service. It was our first social outing as a family.
I straightened my hair, put on eyeliner, and high heels.
The Dad warmed up the truck for a good, long time.
I carefully selected the lil' dude's first Christmas dress ... she was so impossibly tiny, even the newborn sizes dwarfed her.
The lil' dude's first Christmas Eve.
Our church's capacity is near 600.
People were setting up folding chairs near the end of pews, and in the Narthex.
We chose a spot near the back of the church, I remember feeling so grown up when I whispered the order to my husband.
You know, in case she starts screaming?
My heart was near capacity as the last few weeks settled in around us.
Giving birth, finally. And to a daughter!
The whirlwind and revolving door our lives became as people flocked to meet our little girl.
The insane amount of gifts and goodwill.
Holding the Dad's hand under the covers in our bed at night, silent, and appreciative. We just looked at each other like co-conspirators in on the best gig ever.
The lights in the sanctuary dimmed. The service began.
On Christmas Eve, the Christmas Story is played out, complete with a manger, singing angels, and Wise Men riding in on camels. It's quite the performance. Everyone faces the altar, silent, transfixed.
My nostalgia turned my thoughts towards the rest of my family, not-so quietly celebrating Christmas as a pack of 50 in my grandparents' small Lutheran church, tucked behind the tall Pines and icy river. I felt sad, knowing I was missing all the traditions- and Grandma's ice cream roll. I pictured my parents' faces as they told everyone their Christmas story about a baby girl, their first grandchild. The photos handed out, the presents gathered for her. I wish I could have witnessed that from someplace private, just to see their faces and feel their excitement.
What I didn't know then, was Christmas 2007 would be the last my Grandpa R. would celebrate here on earth. I sat in the back of my church, gently swaying as my sleeping daughter lay on my chest, celebrating her first Christmas. The Christmas carols were sung, and "O, Holy Night" brought tears to my eyes as it always did.
And the Christmas Story is that of a miracle baby, whom no one thought would ever be born. Whom everyone rejoiced when he arrived, the world over. And nothing was ever the same after that day.
And the parallels were not lost on me.
The lil' dude and Daddy, Christmas Eve 2007