In the bleak midwinter

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Lucia 2013, Hedvig Eleonora Church

It was a mistake not to travel for Sweden for December 13. I have gravely underestimated my Lucia-needs. Or I have very much overestimated Düsseldorf’s ability to deliver a proper Lucia celebration. Exile, thy name is Dizzel.

Because it is not enough to bake saffron buns at home, to listen to Adolf Fredriks musikklasser on Spotify and to light candles. I need that unique experience of getting up way too early, walking through the snow (or the snöslask in Stockholm rather), all in the grim darkness that surrounds one most hours of the day. To sit in an equally dark church at 7 a.m., in the bleak midwinter, and to hear the bell-like voices of a teenage choir dressed in innocent white, illuminating the church, and the world, with their flickering candles.

We don’t do Lucia at work. Yet. Because I think I’ve decided that this cannot go on. We’re supposed to be the Swedish stronghold in town after all, so next year, då gäller det! Even if I have to do it myself.

Meanwhile, my friend who does exchange in Stockholm right now, was first reluctant to get up at the crack of dawn to go to church.When I heard that last night, I leaned on her to attend the early morning Lucia celebration at “my” church. (Totally not my church, only go there for Lucia.) She had to give a presentation in class that morning, she explained. She’d go to a concert in the evening, she assured me. “No”, I insisted in writing. “Don’t spoil this for yourself. You have to go. You won’t regret it”, I urged her. In my desperation, I sent her the links to my description of my Lucia experiences from three years ago. It worked. She went. This morning at 8 am, I got a text, saying, “Thanks. You were right”.

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“Always listen to your Stockholm Ambassador”. “Helen, you know I do”.

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