Wednesday, December 14, 2011

nostalgia wednesdays: the moravian lovefeast

from here

I am one of those crazy people who loved high school. LOVED it, I tell you. I was insanely lucky that my parents yanked me out of the small town public school system I found myself in upon our move to North Carolina. It's not that it was a heinous school (or that I was a trouble maker), but I think they could tell that I needed more of an academic challenge, not to mention a safe place to spend my most awkward years to date. 

Enter my tiny all girls high school. It was insanely rigorous, but in a way that encouraged the students to bond with each other to survive, resulting in some of the best friendships of my life. It also placed a huge emphasis on traditions, which is something my nostalgia-loving little heart embraced enthusiastically. 

One of the traditions I loved most was the Moravian lovefeast held every December (yes, my school had a Moravian affiliation, random, I know). The lovefeast came just before we sat for our exams every year--the proverbial calm before the very exhausting storm. Every year, our headmistress would devote one of our morning assemblies to reiterating lovefeast etiquette, reminding us of the proper way to pass steaming mugs of coffee and lit candles. Friends and family were all invited, and the buns, sweet coffee, and beeswax candles were handed out by the senior girls who were all dressed in winter white. I still remember shopping for the perfect winter white outfit with my Mom the year I was a senior (notable mostly because it initiated what has become an undying devotion to the store's petite selection of business attire).

When I was in college, my school also held an annual lovefeast. Unlike the lovefeast held in the relatively small auditorium at my high school, my university boasts a huge, beautiful chapel (pictured at the very top of the post). Every year, thousands of students, professors, and people from the community would pile in on a cold December night to start the season surrounded by the distinct smell of those candles.

The picture at the top captures one of my favorite parts of the ceremony in which everyone lifts up their lit beeswax candles during the final song. I fully acknowledge how corny this is about to sound, but being enveloped in the glow of the candles and the sound of your good friends just makes your heart squeeze in the best way. It feels like your little body can't contain all the excitement of the season to come, and you can't stop smiling.

Since I moved away from home and was thrust in to the adult version of the holiday season, in which one gets practically no time off and can barely afford gifts for family and friends, the Christmas spirit has been harder to come by. Actually, I think it's as plentiful as it was when I was still in school, but now I just have to work harder to find it. 

The past few years, I was still in the school mindset, and expected things like lovefeasts and concerts to find me. It didn't help that two years ago, I came down with a mean case of bronchitis that kept me in bed basically the entire time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and last year I thought I was too busy to do anything outside of work. 

But this year. This year I snapped my behind into gear. This year I have done as much as I possibly can to seek out the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately there are no lovefeasts in my area, but I've tried to fill my time with things like Friendsgiving, holiday parties, Nutcracker performances, symphony concerts, zoo light viewings, perfect gift searches, and maybe even some ice skating adventures. 

And although I still find myself a little bit on the blue side this Christmas (for reasons that are both cliche and not worth detailing), I'm pleased that I've worked so hard to surround myself with cheery, spirited things. I find myself having so many of those heart squeeze-y moments, and genuinely looking forward to the next few weeks to come instead of dreading (or rushing through) them like I have the past couple years. 

Anyways, I wish you all many heart squeeze-y moments of your own (and the great family and friends with whom you can experience those moments) this holiday season! 

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