I’m watching the sun rise this morning and realizing that it’s winter. Well, fall, technically, but it’s feeling a lot like winter here in Seattle. The sun is rising so far south, it’s traveled all the way across our living room windows and is rising just out of my sight. I’d get up to see it, but Sprout has settled herself on my legs and I don’t want to disturb her. Not yet. She looks too pleased. My cup of coffee is within reach so she’s in luck for a bit.

It’s looking like it will be another one of those perfect fall days, clear and crisp and perfect. I woke up early this morning. One minute I was asleep and the next a voice whispered in my heart. Christmas is coming. My eyes flew open and I just couldn’t bear to stay in bed. I get so excited for the holidays.

I was raised celebrating Christmas in a broad, non-religious way. For us it was about family and warmth and celebrating what we had. Some years my mom would pack up a thermos of hot cocoa and an abundance of snacks and we’d drive out into the cold night to see everyone’s holiday lights. I remember being bundled up against the cold with my hands warmed by my cocoa and looking at the lights twinkling in the dark. There is magic in lights that shine in the dark and the warmth that comes from within you.

These days the holidays have taken on new shapes. This year I’ll be making the hot cocoa and hanging the lights. Maybe I’ll pick an evening in December and my partner and I will drive out to see the holiday lights. I’ll buy peppermint sticks and put them in my coffee every morning. Everyone can enjoy their pumpkin spice but peppermint will always be where the magic is for me. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned candy cane. I’ll turn up the heat a little and hang lights that shine in the dark. They are a little reminder that we can make our own light when the sun stops shining. The holidays are about creating your own warmth and light, and how the contrasting cold and dark outside can make that shine all the brighter. Love lights us from within and winter makes that easier to see sometimes.