Wes got excited when we all started changing our clothes after dinner tonight. Unfortunately for him, it quickly became clear that someone was going out and someone was staying home.
That's because Charlie can handle long, solemn church services that begin an hour after bedtime. Wes isn't quite there yet.
Charlie and I went to the Lessons and Carols Advent service at my school. I have looked forward to it since last year's, which I spent in the lobby of the chapel following a not-quite-walking Wes around. I crammed myself into a pair of tights and my goin' out (and church and girls' night and Thanksgiving and eating at a restaurant with no clowns) dress even though 30 Rock and the comfy butt print I've made in our couch were SERIOUSLY calling my name.
When we settled into our pew in the beautiful chapel I was so glad we'd made the effort. Charlie was pretty psyched about the candle they'd given me at the door but was oddly nonplussed by the choir who assembled in the back then processed singing "Once in Royal David's City" in a beautiful a capella. It was stirring. I will never know how I got so lucky to have found this school.
I was totally enthralled by the scripture readings and the hymns, which were chosen to compliment the different parts of the Christmas story, but by the third lesson and carol, bedtime caught up with Charlie.
He finds sacred music very soothing.
I was sorry he wasn't awake to experience the service, but it was so peaceful and cozy all snuggled up with the beautiful music and the solemn pace of the readings and responses.
And then we sang Joy to the World. I knew it was almost time to light the candles so I tried to wake Charlie up. He was out cold and nothing I could do discretely was waking him up so I let him sleep. We lit our candles and began singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing (my favorite!) as the choir began to lead the congregation out, starting with the front pews, everyone holding their lit candles in the darkened church. Charlie slept by my side through Hark the Herald and Silent Night as everyone filed out of the church. When I looked up from trying to gather our coats and figuring out how I would get him back to the car I noticed that the choir was standing right in front of us and we were the only people left in the chapel besides a couple of ushers and the chaplain.
They sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful", sometimes accompanied by the pipe organ, sometimes a capella. All by candlelight. It was other-worldly, like a dream. Unbelievable.
And then when it was over someone broke the stillness with a silly little "whoo" and the spell was broken and the magical choir turned back into the scruffy college boys with the haircuts only a mother (or a mother of still-baby boys with ever-scruffy hair) could love. I somehow got Charlie to his feet and led him wearily out of the chapel into the cool night in search of a hot chocolate and a warm bed.