Enjoy the wizard’s light show

Christmas lights at Upper Canada village in Morrisburg
Alight at Night at Morrisburg

When Thomas Edison first hung a string of incandescent lights outside his laboratory in New York in 1880 so commuters on a passing train could see them, they called it the wizard’s light show.

As the Winter Solstice approaches, and the days grow shorter, we turn to lights to brighten the darkness and warm our hearts.

I was in Montreal this week, and even though there was a raging snowstorm, it was beautiful with magnificent wreaths, statues and lights gracing many of the buildings.

Every year, Regent Street in London lights up. Here’s this year’s lighting ceremony on Regent Street. Even though I’ve never been lucky enough to attend the Regent Street festivities in person, I watch it online each year. My favourite was the year Nokia sponsored the display and made the lights interactive, so the crowd could control the lighting. Watch this amazing video of how they created the Unity Nokia Regent Street light display that year.

For those of us in Eastern Ontario, Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg is a must-see. We went last year and it was magical. The entire historical village is lit up, and you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride or simply stroll through the streets admiring the lights and light shows timed to music.

Whether you live in a big city, small town or in the country, this week’s #HappyAct is to get out and brighten your night by looking at the lights of the season. For more information on the history of Christmas lights, read this interesting article.



Be a secret Santa

Secret santaI’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to work with some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Our work is as hectic as the next place—seems there is no down time these days. They call it the “new normal”. But in December, we make time to celebrate the season and each other’s company.

Some of the traditions we’ve started is helping to pack hampers for the Salvation Army as a team, writing hand-written personal cards, and of course, lots of holiday treats, goodies and a potluck.

This year the gang wanted to do something different than our ordinary gift exchange, and we landed on Secret Santa. We drew names (well, we actually had to draw twice since Jessica put her name on every slip the first time), and for the next two weeks, we are going to delight the person whose name we drew with little surprises to make their day. It’s been so much fun thinking of what I can do for my Secret Santa friend. I can’t wait until the 19th when we have our potluck, exchange gifts and have our “secret Santa reveal”.

This week’s #HappyAct is to be a secret Santa to somebody. Surprise them with a little gift, treat or card telling them how great they are, decorate their cubicle or hang an ornament on their front porch. Embrace the spirit of giving. Let the merriment begin.

Open a door a day

advent calendarOne of my favourite holiday traditions is counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. It heralds the time to deck the halls, write cards and prepare for the joyous holiday season.

I think I’ve always liked the activities leading up to Christmas more than Christmas itself. I can’t remember ever not having an advent calendar in the house to help build that excitement and anticipation.

I remember years ago backpacking through Europe with my girlfriend June after university. It was December and we were visiting her uncle Ian Kerr in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ian had an advent calendar, and for the days we visited with him, we celebrated by opening up a door a day. For years after, Ian and I exchanged Christmas cards and his message would always be the same—“time to start the advent calendar”. (Ian Kerr from Aberdeen if you’re out there and reading this blog, drop me a line).

This week’s #HappyAct is to buy an advent calendar and open a door a day from now until Christmas. Discover the magic of the season and the chocolate treat behind the door.

Show your spirit

Elaine Peterson in Santa hatNext week is Christmas, a time of peace, hope and joy. I love everything about Christmas– the music, the presents, turkey and chocolates, visiting with friends and family. But the thing I love the most about this time of year is the spirit of the season.

I want to tell you about a friend of mine, Elaine Peterson. For the month of December, Elaine wears a red Santa hat around town. It becomes her winter cap. It never fails to put a smile on my face. Unlike some people who prefer to sweep their birthdays under the rug, Elaine reminds everyone at least a week ahead of time it’s her birthday.  Her birthday has become a full week of celebrations with food, lunches, parties and get togethers. Elaine loves life and isn’t afraid to show it. She exudes spirit.

When I got the idea to write this particular blog post, it was the same week Nelson Mandela died. Much has been written about Mandela. He was a great statesman and leader. But what made Nelson Mandela an incredible human being was his indomitable spirit and courage.

Our spirit is the window to our soul. It takes courage to bare our soul, and show our spirit. We can’t all be Nelson Mandelas, but we can all be Elaine Petersons.

This week’s Happy Act is to show your spirit. You don’t have to wear a Santa hat around town, but do something that shows who you are, what you stand for and what makes you special. Don’t worry about what others think. Show your spirit and celebrate you. May the spirit of the season be with you.