Celebrate the Solstice

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It's no wonder that lights are part of every winter celebration. Twinkling against the backdrop of winter's darker days, they stand out as festive and cheery, especially on the longest night of the year--the winter solstice (December 22). Marking this day with a simple celebration of light is not only a nice way to teach your kids about the seasons, but it can also be a calming break from the hectic holiday pace.

Keep your celebration down to earth--a candlelit dinner or trip into the backyard to stargaze is ideal. But to really banish the darkness, set aside an hour or so to make luminarias--decorative paper bags filled with sand and small candles. To make one, decorate a brown paper lunch bag by tracing a simple pattern in pencil on one side, then punching out your design with a hole punch. Fill each luminaria with about 2 inches of sand and sink a votive candle or tea light in the center. Place the luminarias along a walk, patio or deck, light them (a grown-up's job) and bask in the glow.

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