Happy Winter Solstice! The longest night of the year seemed the perfect opportunity for our annual McGaugh Christmas Light Drive! Every year the four of us pack up hot chocolate, get into our cozy Christmas pajamas (well, three of us do that), tuck ourselves into the car with blankets and Christmas carols, and head out to search Temecula for pretty Christmas lights. I love the family memories we are making. Katie kept saying, “This is magical!” In our house, calling anything “magical” is known to be high praise indeed.

The kiddos are in their matching pajamas, bundled up with blankets and ready for lights. Eric had warm chocolate through a straw. This will be the first Light Drive he remembers—last year, he was still an infant. This year he kept pointing and looking all around.

Hot chocolate is dripping from the lips of my elf-girl! Bill took us to an awesome street that had twelve houses with lights all synchronized to a Christmas radio station. Katie was in awe that the lights were “dancing to the music!”

I have to say, this was one of our best Light Drives yet. Going just a few days before Christmas, I think, yielded more houses with lights. Also, we did not focus so much on using the official Christmas light map this year—Bill took us to some of the usual places, yet we weren’t as concerned with trying to check all the houses off our list. Instead, we just savored the houses we happened to find, interspersed with some of the well-known Temecula houses that do something fabulous every year. Mellow and merry!

This morning, I had a bit of time on my own to finish collecting stocking stuffers for my three loves. It is truly not often that I happen to find myself out and about on errands without one or both (usually both, of course) of the children, and my my, the feeling of easy movement was quite a treat. I love going out with my children, yet I found it deliciously restful to be able to put the cheering, coaching, negotiating, lifting in and out of the car seats, watching, and advising on hold and have a little thought-time to myself. I treated myself to a gingerbread latte and even spent a few moments filing my nails (needed it for days!) in the car listening to Christmas music. Having a breather for the little things means so much.

And when I ran into my neighbor in a store, I could give her all of my attention without darting my eyes to supervise the kiddos. A simple but much appreciated moment, for sure.

I enjoyed the festive mood in the air today. The last days before Christmas are delightful. Several of us in line at a store got into a merry conversation about last minute errands and a yummy recipe for egg nog and ice cream punch. One reason why I love this time of year so much is that there is a feeling of collective celebration, even with complete strangers—a reminder that we’re in this together, you know? It is the same reason that Christmas lights make me so happy: not only are they sparkly and beautiful, but also there is a sense of shared joy, of some great happiness toward which we are working for a season.

My mom added to the joy this afternoon by surprising Katie and me (Eric was napping) with THREE Christmas ornament crafts. Fun! Katie, my artful crafter, lighted up when we started an afternoon of crafting.

Amie teaches Katie how to make a beaded Christmas tree ornament.

Next up: glitter snowflakes! Amie brought over Martha Stewart glitter—I now know that, yes, there is for certain a qualitative difference between Martha’s glitter and regular glitter. Amazing glitter!

We then took a break, and I let Katie do something wild. I let her sprinkle the fine Martha Stewart glitter all over the house: floors, tree, sideboard, couch, carpet, chairs, anywhere. Yes, she asked permission. No, I am not insane. She was pretending to be the glitter fairy. I started it all by putting it in her hair. The glitter is so fine that it looks as if sparkle just naturally emanates from the surfaces. I actually love it. My whole kitchen floor looks like magic in the light. Hey, why not? You are only a kiddo once. Everything can be cleaned up—not that I want to clean this, because I like how pretty it looks. Yes, for real. Sometimes we have to honor whimsy. Some few parts of life are to be viewed seriously, for sure; most of it, however, is really not (in my view) to be taken seriously at all. I hope to teach my children to know the difference, because it will give them great freedom to follow their authentic selves and to find happiness in the silliness.

Then we made our third ornament: a marshmallow-reindeer-bell. This might need a picture. Oh well.

I wish December could last forever!

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