We started with a fire in the fireplace and a single candle (only because I otherwise would have been unable to read, and I don't have these stories memorized, as much as I would like to). I read the story "Festivals of Light" in which a boy searches for wax for his family's solstice lantern on the Long Night, coming across families preparing to celebrate/celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa along the way.
In the story, each family gives the boy some wax for his lantern, and each family punches a row of holes in his can for the light to shine through. I prepared a can in advance with 3 rows of holes, then covered them with construction paper, and as I read the story, I revealed the rows as we came to them (as well as adding wax -- there was already a quantity of wax melted into the bottom with a wick embedded so that I could light the lantern when it happened in the story), so that by the end of the story our lantern shone as brightly as the boy's.
The story ends by singing "This little light of mine" as the boy and his mother head out for their lantern walk. We continued humming the song as we dressed and sang one more round as we headed out for our lantern walk. The boys took turns leading the way with our solstice lantern.
When we got back, I lead our solstice litany, which I lifted off another Mom a couple years ago. I won't repost the entire thing here, but it's absolutely lovely, starting with darkness. I read about the "wheel" of the year turning and the darkening of the earth, and the return of the light, and I light a single candle, our "sun candle" (this year it was a candle that J had hand-dipped).
Then I read a series of 14 short statements, first about the darkening, then about the return of the light, and after each statement, the boys (and the man!) respond, and I light another candle, until we have 15 candles burning brightly and lighting the once-dark room.
Then we break out the popcorn and the sleeping bags, and I read "King Winter" from the Enki Kindergarten Nature Stories collection as the kids get settled into their "beds" by the fire for the night.
Then I dragged out my guitar and sang seasonal songs until the kids fell asleep.
It's still not daylight yet, but The Map Man had to get up and head to work, despite this being a "holiday" for him (we'll celebrate when he gets home this evening). J's still dozing in his bag. Zoo Boy just joined me in bed as I was typing this out, and I'm feeling drowsy yet again, so I'm going to finish my observation of this long night and drift back off until dawn.
Happy Winter, everyone!