Oh it’s good to live in New York in December. The Bergdorf windows, Carol of the Bells at Saks, the Angel Tree at the Met, gawdy boughs on the Harry Winston doorway and that hideous bow on the Cartier store.

And so right now I’m particularly sensitive to a sad conversation that happens a lot here. “How long are you staying?” we say. Ask Louise or Lisa: it’s a fabulous place to live, but more likely than not, you can’t stay.  You stop affording it, you grow out of its apartments, your feet start to hurt. Perhaps it’s that you catch the underside of Frank’s ditty: it’s hard to make it here.

So we come for a couple of years to start our careers and then something pushes us out. My in-laws came to church with us this fall. They laughed. “It’s a half-step away from a single’s ward,” they said. True, we’re young, but you should hear us on congregational hymns!

It’s lame, this knowing we won’t always be here. In the past six months, two of my best friends moved away from me. Yesterday, a friend emailed me a picture of Adelaide in nursery with all of her little friends. I got a little teary looking at it, because more or less, every one in that picture is on their way out.

Friday night, we sat around with friends who are as good as gone (“one year tops,” she said), and he lamented that on his last visit to Utah he went to church in a ward where the congregation didn’t really sing the hymns. “I wanted to be back in Harlem,” he said. “I can sing out in Harlem.”

It was bad timing for his comment, because the next night was the New York Stake Christmas Concert. Adelaide sat on my lap, perfectly still, for over an hour (beating out her old record by 57 minutes). She was transfixed, holding her hands in the ready position to clap.

The kids from the Spanish ward put on sombreros and sang Nino Lindo, and Marie Adele McArthur sang In the Bleak Midwinter with her teenage son. Her voice was perfect, and I think she had her hand on the back of his elbow. His voice was off just enough to make it one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. And then Levi sang I wonder as I wander and even though I know it shouldn’t be the reason I’m in love with him…

And then the congregation sang Joy to the World. And D. Fletcher was at the organ and when D. Fletcher is at the organ…

So I spent Saturday night singing as loud as I could and unable to hear myself. Tears were streaming down my face and my heart hurt because honestly, do they sing like this anywhere else?