Thursday, January 10, 2013

List #6 — A Winter to Love

It's January 10th. This means that Christmas is long over and we are into the winter season with a long few months ahead of us. After living in Texas for almost seven years, I had forgotten about the wear and tear of a northern winter. It's long, cold and dark. Last year we had a break from the snow, but this year it would seem it's returning as any winter-lover would hope.

So this year I determined to love winter. Somewhere in mid-October, I realized that if I was going to not be a miserable companion for the next six months, I had to choose to be grateful for where I lived. Living in this town means for part of the year I live with lake-effect snow, biting winds, and a New York winter with her bitter edges and dusky, gray hues. 

And so far, so good. Sacrificial gratitude eventually starts to feel like genuine, joyful gratitude, and then it seems to multiply on itself (like most God-given gifts do. They never really grow smaller). The fruit of joy is something I cannot feign or force. But when I taste it's goodness, I'm reminded how sweet it is.

How I am Falling in Love with Winter Again:

1. The Beauty — All that it takes is a walk. During or after a snowfall, the world is literally a wonderland. It's stunning. It takes my breath away. And also, thanks to things like Instagram, I can daily search for #winter or #snow, and turn up a treasure trove of pine trees, heavy with snow, homes filled with friends and meals of warmth, and adventurers who are eager to take on any snowy mountain. So I'm looking everywhere for the beauty of winter. And like most things, if you're looking for it, you'll see it.

2. Hot Cocoa — or as my daughter calls it, "Hot Chock". Early on in December, I decided all winter long we would have the some of the best ingredients at our fingertips for hot cocoa. Rich dark chocolate, cream, marshmallows, peppermint sticks, you name it. So it's there, buffet style, sitting on our dining table, 24/7. Ready at any moment for a happy-chocolate-drinker. 

3. Read and Read and Read — I have a stack of books to read this winter. Nothing carries you away from the harsh winter winds faster than a book about space travel, a foreign country or a time long past.

4. Hello Telly— Hey. I'm not above watching movies and/or good TV shows on long, dark winter evenings. We have a stack of musicals to work through, a film series and a couple seasons on Netflix. It's like carrying around a pack of gum. You don't know when you'll need it, but when you do, you'll be glad you have it.

5. Sit in Silence — I'll steep some tea, grab a quilt, turn off all the lights except for the remaining twinkle lights, and just sit. Pray. Listen. Close my eyes. Process. Silence can be a rich balm to a loud world, and sometimes I fill the silence up with so much stuff, that I can completely miss it. So I find it. And take it. And rest in it.

6. Good People — Have good friends. Make good friends. Play games, socialize, make plans, talk honestly, share recipes, dream together, invest. A lonely winter is hard. If your heart is in winter along with your skin, find people to warm it.

7. Spring Goals — We have things on the calendar for the spring and summer and fall. This makes these long winter months feel less endless. There's an end in sight. There's a date for when we'll sit with our toes in the beach sand. For when we'll climb mountains. For when we'll share coffee with friends, and fly in airplanes, and see the bigger world again. After we hibernate, we'll adventure more.

8. Keep Playing— my daughter is finally at the age where winter sports aren't just fascinating, but fun and worth experiencing. Snow forts, snowball fights, winter Narnia exploring, sledding, etc. And the talk of more — skiing, snowshoeing, hiking. I refuse to be housebound with snow. It's just a new landscape to discover.

9. Read the Good Stories — I've started collecting winter books for M and me. Not just Christmas books. Winter books. About the animals hibernating and trekking, pioneers, cabins, mountains, blizzards, and snowflakes. We have discovered that even in a cold, stark canvas, there is so much beauty to write and to read. When the sun is invisible behind gray, and we're curled up under quilts on quiet afternoons, I'll pull out a few of these favorites to talk again about the dancing tiger, the fiddler of the northern lights or the horses who get stuck in so much snow, they disappear.

So, while winter may be here to stay, we are enjoying the richness of a home and community that draws in closer, a new landscape to explore and captivate our imagination, and a treasure trove of stories to dream of.

#30daysoflists so far:
1. Things I Would Tell Someone Turning 20
2. Movies for a Wintry Saturday
3. In Regards to Turning 30
4. Back to Work Monday
5. The Real Deal


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