I’m not a Winter Person.
I honestly don’t understand how anyone is.
It’s cold, but it’s not just cold, it’s miserable. The sky is grey, it’s either raining, snowing, or ice is just pummeling to the ground. Everything is either wet or frozen, our backyard that was once sun drenched, colorful, and useful is now muddy, soggy, and lifeless. It’s dark, with the sun setting seemingly right after lunch and refusing to emerge until breakfast is tucked away. The garden suffers a swift death followed by a long slumber. The flowers are gone, and with them all the color and beauty that conquers our bit of scenery. I can’t go walking anymore, unless I enjoy the sight of icicles forming in my children’s noses. Speaking of kids, turns out they don’t like playing outside in freezing temperatures (can you believe that?!) So we’re all nice and cozy inside stampeding on each others nerves – ALL. THE. TIME.
Then there are the more vain of complaints, like my hair getting disheveled at the opening of a window, having to wear boots for 6 months straight, an expanding waistline, a pasty complexion, all crowned by an unsightly twitch from too much confinement. It’s less than attractive, and by January I am aching for Spring. So every year I set out to find new ways of coping with the dark, the grey, and the cold.
Here are my few accumulated tips:-Light. I keep select Christmas lights up in our house until Lent begins. I need the sparkle amid the dark. and as juvenile as it may seem, the tiniest twinkle does indeed lift my spirits on those long, quiet, forlorn afternoons. I also have a weakness for candles during winter. I light them as soon as the dim of late afternoon sets in around the house. Although I will always prefer fresh air to any other artificial scent – it’s fun to spend winter experimenting and trying out new scented candles. (I’m partial to anything with “Spruce”, or “Balsam” in the title.)-Bulbs. I love that God designed flowering bulbs and seeds to be nestled in the fall and winter, just to grace our efforts in the Spring. Just when the landscape begins to appear bleak, and the blank soil lets out it’s last whimper of warmth – alas! Green! I plant when the weather is still welcoming, while I’m still taking for granted the lingering breath of summer and the chill of winter remains a distant memory. With the small investment of my hands, laying the dormant treasures in their new homes – I will be rewarded with small shoots of green, the dearest promise of Spring. During the Winter, I can cling to this promise, lean against the window, and sigh – as the dawn of new life silently ascends through frozen soil – awaiting it’s debut.-Gluttony. I seem to flourish in that ethos regardless of the season – but winter does seem to suggest one partake in the less everyday of culinary exercise. A tangible comfort during the winter, can be as easy as learning a hot chocolate recipe, or trying a new tea. A warm cup of rice pudding at night, steaming soup a top the stove, or hot grains cooked in milk on an icy morning are so quick to alleviate any chill. I love a well-composed pot roast on a rainy Sunday evening, after the house has gradually become immersed in the savory scent of a timeless meal. Before I know it we’ll be sauntering in the haze of summer, and at the loathsome question of dinner – I’ll panic to find something both nourishing, and oven/stove-free. Eventually, even I, begin to pine for the winter nights where I was able to cook comforting, pleasing dinners, easily attained by way of stove top and oven.-Occupations. There is always plenty to accomplish inside the home during the winter months. Small home projects like interior painting, organizing, baking, purging, or just deep cleaning are good goals to set for myself. The cold weather also affords more time for indoor hobbies, or learning something new. Other such ambitions are always hastily abandoned once the sun returns to us.
Despite my deeply-seeded contempt for winter and it’s wrath upon my sun-filled pleasures, I know that God has deemed it fitting that it claim it’s annual toll upon my year.
There is a lesson to be learned in the cold.
Winter teaches me stillness. Nothing like the lazy stillness of summer that I oh so enjoy, but a patient stillness – a wait. A wait with no gratification of progress, and that may only be enjoyed by those who stay still, and take notice. While I wait for the sun in a world fallen asleep, I’m nudged along to practice quiet and to be unafraid of the silence.
Winter also opens a window for self-care; I spend extra time with my moisturizer to combat the dry skin so lovingly bestowed by winter weather. I take care that my body is worked and that I exercise daily despite the cold that otherwise only inspires me to grab another blanket and sit down. I read more during winter to ensure that my mind is stimulated and my knowledge fruitful. Little cares such as these are easier to attend to during this time – so I take advantage of it.
Life slows for the winter months at a pace different than summer. Meats are roasted longer and sauces simmer until completion. Storms are admired as we explain to our children why thunder and lightning aren’t frightening – but marvelous. Bedtime is ponderous but pleasant, followed by the sluggish rise to cold mornings. Secret treats are admitted, extra helpings favored, and the couch stands witness to extra hugs, wrestling matches, cuddles, forts, and stolen kisses.
These are the small, but profound offerings of Winter. The season that compels us to cope with darkness with a heart of warmth, comfort, and generosity.
But I still hate it.