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Embracing Change with Lantern Walk

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Once you have kids, the end of Daylight Savings Time can go from an irksome change to something that upends whatever sense of control you have over your schedule, shifting kids' sleep, moods, and even behavior. This makes it an easy thing for us parents to complain about and resist.

Which is exactly what Brian and I found ourselves doing seven years ago when we lived with two kiddos under three in Brooklyn. We resented the darkness, the change in schedule, and how it limited our outdoor time. But then we realized we didn't want our kids to see us railing against the inevitable changes in life—weren't we trying to prepare them to roll with whatever life handed them?

There is nothing permanent except change.—Heraclitus

That's when we got the idea for Lantern Walk, now a national event in its seventh straight year. Already teaching what would become Tinkergarten, I reached out to fellow parents and friends and put a notice on our local parents' listserve to join in a lantern walk the Sunday eve after we turned the clocks back. I hosted a few lantern-making sessions in the park, made some lanterns with the kids, and, at dusk on that first Sunday eve of early darkness in November, headed to our local park with the family.

What happened next blew me away. I stood up on a bench to talk to people and was overwhelmed. Hundreds had shown up—with kids, guitars, and a desire to come together with light to face the darkness of approaching winter. It was magical. And it was the start of a tradition now hosted in hundreds of cities and towns across the country. This year, more than 300 Tinkergarten Lantern Walks are planned, from Alabama to Alaska.

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There are light festivals around the world, from the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in China and Vietnam to Germany's St. Martin's Day festival. And nearly every faith tradition has a winter holiday that involves light—from the Hanukkah menorah to Christmas tree lights to the Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles) of Kwanzaa. This Fall Lantern Walk tradition is tapping into that same universal power of light, hope and community—nothing new, but never more needed than now.

Our Tinkergarten Lantern Walk keeps it simple, honoring of the cycles of nature, with kids and families helping to prepare by making homemade "lanterns" that even wee kiddos can design (here's that project), or even just by joining in and holding flashlights.

The chance to come together with others and walk outdoors at dusk is a rare experience for kids who can open their senses to sounds, sights, and smells they cannot experience in the daylight. On the walk, all ages come together to sing songs, move our bodies, and celebrate our local greenspace, our planet and our growing community of families who treasure the outdoors together.

Look for a Tinkergarten Lantern Walk near you or make your own lanterns and head out at dusk on Sunday, November 3rd. We welcome you to join among the tens of thousands of families who will turn the downer of shorter days into memories that carry us well beyond the cold of winter and that connect us all to the Earth at a time where that connection has never been more important.

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.—Thich Nhat Hanh