A Season of Light, 
A Season of Gifts

As the season of gifts enters in all its bright, tinsel-tangled glory, and landscape painter’s palettes (and my camera’s lens) disproportionately fill with the color white (with a few extra dollops of bright red and hunter green for accent), it can be a jolt to find yourself on the needing-to-be-receiving side of the holidays… even when it’s just the small and common things of life and community you’re needing.

Just hours shy of this issue’s deadline, my car’s lights (and engine) went dark as pitch at a particularly late hour. (Note to self: that “We’ll leave the light on for ya” slogan does NOT work with cars.)  Fortunately a friend’s generosity got me home quickly and safely. The next morning, with the flick of a finger I invoked the modern wonder of an Uberquick ride to the site of my self-inflicted crime, where a person I’d barely met generously helped jump-start my battery (not to mention my car’s) and get me quickly on my way. 

That same week I presented a live photo/video show at a favorite local spot (Main Street Outfitter – purveyors of fine beverage, live music, and of course, bicycle repair), highlighting my best captures from their awesomely-costumed “Day of the Dead” bike ride around town.  (Note the photo on page 13; can you spot SWL publisher Michael Beightol? “Where’s Waldo?”) The appreciative crowd cheered, laughed, told stories, and lingered even as I began to play randomly through the “deep tracks” I’ve filmed of the many other special events in our SW Lake community. The darkened room seemed to glow less from the screen’s light, and more from the warmth of the witnesses; yet another unexpected gift received. 

Speaking of gifts and celebrating the “local”, I hope you enjoy our Holiday Gift Guide, and find plenty of great reasons to shop small. New contributor Debbie Johnson shares how the newly-designed 2018 GMC Terrain is a gift that keeps on giving. Not everyone is born gifted at Math, but Oscar Im and team at the newly-opened Mathnasium in Wauconda can help your child develop a love for learning it. Shane’s Foundation lifts the precious light of a lost loved one to educate and establish safeguards to protect our children.  Mark Hornok notes what’s required when it’s time to gift ourselves with a chunk of what we’ve squirreled away for retirement.


As winter’s chill sets in: gather some light, share your gifts, and celebrate the season. 

See You Around Town!

Stephen Neilson

Editor & Principal Photographer, SW Lake Lifestyle