Lighting a candle

St Martins Day Lantern

Lighting a candle in our Martinstag lantern

It’s been quite a week this past week. I’ve mentally made the transition from Halloween to pre-Christmas. The rotting carved pumpkins have been removed from the front porch and M is talking about trying to make gluten free ‘saffran bulle’ this weekend (Swedish saffron rolls that are traditionally eaten for St Lucia on December 13). I’ve received a gluten filled parcel of amazing advents cookies from Germany, but C can’t eat any of them so I will aim to try and make our favorite advents cookies, gluten free this year. I send out an invite to my German crew for a traditional ‘Adventskaffee’ (advents coffee with speciality cakes and cookies on the 4 Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas). The mixed nuts and nut cracker are on the table – much to the delight of the kids who think it is hilarious to make ‘nut explosions’.

On St Martins Day (Martinstag in our house), we celebrated with a wee lantern procession with our friends around our local neighborhood. Well – we cheated and walked a day early, as my friend was heading off for a conference in Vegas on the 11th. The tradition is to make paper lanterns and to walk with them singing traditional lantern songs, honoring St Martin. We didn’t quite manage the homemade lanterns this year. We’ve had 2 weeks of house guests and when it came to Wednesday morning and the house was in chaos, I lost the steam needed to go and buy the supplies to make the lanterns. I defaulted to the cute red Christmas lanterns that we’d bought at Ikea last year. Quite perfect and the kids loved carrying them with their small tea lights lit inside. My friend had made delicious cookies for the pre-walk feast. I felt bad that I hadn’t thought to make a gluten free alternative for C. I’d been more focused on ensuring that the kids ate dinner before we set out to walk in the dark. M receives a cute card from his grandma to celebrate his ‘name day’ that day (a Swedish tradition) and we smile. That evening I read Ali’s post for gluten free almond spiced cookies for Martinmas. Next year!

Little did I realize how apt it was to walk with lit candles that evening. I certainly didn’t think that I’d be purposefully lighting a candle the next day. That I’d be lighting a candle to honor a gentle soul who had passed away that day. I didn’t expect to open my email the next morning and receive the news that the brother of my cousins wife had passed away. Taken in his prime by cancer, leaving behind his wife and two young children. I didn’t expect the wave of emotions that would hit me when I received the news and, as I write this, I realize that the emotions haven’t quite sunk in yet. My first reaction was to acknowledge how incredibly lucky I am to have survived cancer and to think how terribly unfair it is that some people don’t. I’m reminded how important it is to feel gratitude and how easy it is to find joy in the simplest of things.

I read a poem. I like it. It’s simple and yet it rings so true. It’s a reminder of what’s important every single day:

If today, by Cristina Diaz

    If today was the last day of my life
    I would leave all worries aside
    I would be thankful to be alive
    I would be all right
    I would just smile
    If today was the last day of my life
    I would stop to smell the roses
    I would appreciate all that surrounds me
    I would be friendly, and I would laugh
    I would take the time to be closerIf today was the last day of my life
    I would pass on peace
    I would be generous
    I would pass on love
    I would deeply breath

    If today was the last day of my life
    I would accept peacefully all that comes,
    including my death,
    for death
    is just a new beginning.


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  1. Oh, Nicola, what a beautiful and poignant post. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing that poem and all your seasonal preparations. Lovely lantern photo and bittersweet considerng that it marks the passage of one who dear and who will be missed so much. Many, many hugs to you, dear.


  2. What a beautiful post! Nicola this was so touching. I absolutely loved it. And I bookmarked it so that I can share this poem. The photo of the lantern is so precious. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I am sending love and hugs to you right now. xoxo

  3. that
    s a beautiful poem, thank you for sharing it. And I’m sending you a big hug, and wishing you and yours all the best.

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