by Lorne Holden Many years ago, I had the chance to visit the Svalbard Islands, an international archipelago under the governance of Norway, far above the arctic circle. I went with two friends to participate in an arts festival that celebrates the return of the sun after many months of darkness. As you can imagine, this place was like nowhere else I'd ever been. The quiet was indescribable, the weather was wild and reindeer roamed the streets unbothered by people, snowmobiles or cars. (The fellow below was wandering around during our visit and didn't mind posing for a picture.)
As part of our time there, my friends and I offered movement classes to the town's nursery school. At the end of our class, we were invited to stay for snack and at snack time the teachers lit candles for the table. Candles! For a table of tiny children at mid-morning. I was struck by the beauty and tenderness of this and asked the teacher about it. “We spend so much of the year in darkness,” she explained,”we always try to create light when we can.”
I am thinking of that nursery now as our days are growing darker and we are beginning what is so aptly called “The Season of Light.” There are many ways to celebrate this aspect of the holiday season and candles, lanterns and even flashlights can all play a part in the festivities.
Candles are available everywhere but there can be real magic in making your own. Beeswax candles, with their great honey scent, are always a favorite and can be made in a variety of shapes. There are wonderful instructions on how to make them here. Additionally, there are ways to make candles out of home ingredients including that old fashioned ingredient - lard. Here's a great short video full of inspiring ideas.
I was delighted to learn recently that you can actually make candles out of old crayons. If you've got a bunch laying around, gather them up and follow the simple instructions here. This is a terrific project to do with kids and a great way to let them know that those old crayons can be reimagined as holiday treasure. Lanterns
A wonderful holiday event to experience with your family is a “Lantern Walk.” You simply make homemade lanterns, tie them to the end of sticks and head out into the evening darkness. Whether you walk through the woods or just around your neighborhood, it is an amazing, magical experience for all. There are many simple, wonderful ways to make homemade lanterns. The great Bob Vila of 'This Old House,” offers thirteen ideas here.
Something we really love in our house is making light sabers and light shafts out of flashlights and colored paper. This is the simplest project ever and can offer up a load of fun. Simply take a flashlight of any size and wrap the lighted end with colored paper. Tape the paper to itself in a column and to the top of the flashlight as well. Then simply stand the flashlight anywhere you need a soft light or do happy battle with it as a lightsaber. The very small LED flashlights brought to life with a piece of vellum paper make great lightsabers for very small children. Haven't been able to get a good photo of these, but trust me, they're magic.
Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the bestselling book "MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done." Check out her website for news of her amazing program "LifeBloom" - a three week adventure in making things happen.