How to Love Winter {After Christmas is Over}

3:38 PM

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My Christmas tree has been down for ages and now there is a winter storm looming so it seems like a good day to share this! I used to love winter because it meant snow and that meant snow removal job and that meant extra money! But I have always loved Christmas and stubbornly held onto the festive decorations as long as possible (*cough*oncekeptthetreeupuntilMarch*cough*). Undecorating is always a sad time, especially here in the Northeast USA where winter lingers for three more months after Christmas is over and yet we don't have the twinkling Christmas lights to cheer us up.

So I have spent much time lately contemplating my plan on how to love this season of winter and not just endure until the end. Of March. Or April. Or May. Or whenever green appears next. I want to winter to be on my list of favorite things-- along with spring, summer and fall. Because I am aiming to enjoy, to savor, to delight in every moment of the life that God gives. Even in blustering, cold winter weather that He provides.

So here are some of my thoughts on Loving Winter {After Christmas is Over}
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Go Outside Every Day
I have my favorite adventurous homeschooling family blogger to thank for this concept. I don't know how long ago I read her blog about getting outside every day, but this is the first year that I am taking it seriously, and trying to remove all obstacles to this getting-outside-everyday resolution. I know all the benefits (natural light! Vitamin D! fresh air! immunities! happiness!) and am using them as mental weapons to knock down the lame excuses when the thermometer dips further and further down.

My father's sensible words always echo many times over during wintertime, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices."  To translate this into my language --- wear lots of layers! And a hat! And gloves! And warm boots! Make a life where you have the extra five or ten (or twenty, if the little boy doesn't understand how to put his little thumbs in mittens yet) minutes to dress appropriately, because it will lead to an enjoyably brisk-yet-wonderful outdoor adventure.
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Slow Down & Stay In
While it seems like I am writing the complete opposite of what I just said, it all makes sense when one realizes that you can't stay outside forever, even if you're dressed appropriately. And a long winter's walk is even better when looking forward to those winter evenings where darkness falls early and there's nowhere to go and nothing to do but stay in. It is those moments when gratefulness abounds. For our squeaky old cottage with the winter-insulated windows and warm slippers and furry throws that we snuggle into. For old movies to watch and instrumental music and a singing teakettle that makes steaming tea to warm our souls. After the busyness of Christmas, we need a rest. And our winter months provide the perfect solution.

Get Cozy on Purpose
I stumbled onto an article about the Danish concept of "hygge" and am so intrigued by the concept. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that doesn't fully translate into English. It means "coziness" (or as the Brits spell it, "cosiness") and yet hygge means so much more. It is defined by some as "the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things."  It is lingering over dinner with friends. It is flickering candlelight and hot drinks. It is warm duvets and cozy sweaters. It is burrowing down and being comfortable and yes, experiencing coziness to the nth degree. Hygge is one of the reasons that Denmark is consistently voted one of the happiest countries in the world. Because in the dark, cold months, Danes are enjoying time with each other and enjoying comforts themselves instead of falling into the failing-at-New-Years-resolutions-and-therefore-going-crazy-with-self-criticism-and-in-general-being-miserable. So yes, hygge is a concept that I can (and will) embrace. Because to me, it sounds like the best parts of Christmas will be lasting until spring.
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Candlelight (And Other Flames)
Candles bring warmth and movement and soft warm lighting into the cold wintertime. I adore the Christmas tree mostly because of the instant ambiance it creates. Now I am lighting a few candles before sitting down to dinner or evening quiet time (in the interest of safety, I don't light candles in a room where there isn't a responsible adult, I always keep them out of the child's reach and I extinguish them when I leave the room). I may move on to flameless candles, too, for extra safety. The flameless surprise has been how much we enjoy turning on the crackling fireplace (Yule Log) using Amazon Prime/Roku/the TV. Cue all the warm fuzzy feelings.
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Cook Seasonally... Because Nobody Likes Salad When It's Zero Degrees Outside
Steaming soups so brothy and filling that your belly is full and your face is smiling. Root vegetables roasted until crispy and bursting with natural sweetness. Flash-steamed vegetables with a dash of garlic salt and olive oil and serving piping hot. Warm grain salads with savory bacon stirred in for flavor... All the delicious, delightful things that nobody wants in the summer, but taste like ambrosia and heaven and fluffy clouds during the winter. I think we tent to gravitate to warm, filling foods during the winter and yet our brains fight against it because we think, "DIET! RAW CARROTS! SALAD! ICE WATER." And then our poor conflicted bodies don't know what to eat. This year, I am planning healthy (warm) things to cook and believing that what our bodies crave is what we need.

Enjoy Time with Friends and Family
The holiday season is chock-full of gatherings with loved ones. Then we enter solitary winter mode and wonder why our happiness level dips drastically. So gather! Congregate! Party! Feast! Hygge! If you don't have an excuse to gather, make one up! Game nights, football viewing, dinner parties, appetizers and desserts, gather with a girlfriend to do home manicures, read a book aloud, try a new recipe and invite a few folks over to taste-test. Bring out the old games like Jenga and Monopoly and the tough games like Risk and the silly group games like Blurt and Charades. And if there's no time for spending time with your loved ones... get unbusy. Life is better that way.

Practice Contentment (i.e. stop looking at beach vacation pics on the internet, yo)
It's so much easier to love what you've got when you're not busy staring at what you don't. This applies to so many things in life, but whenever you see that you don't have any beach trips planned this month (nothing wrong with the occasional ocean sojourn!), there comes a building joy and delight in winter-y things. Snowflakes and fur hats and hot chocolate and icy beauty. It's a different joy than summer joy, but it is still wonderful.
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Winter is lovely... I hope you enjoy discovering its delights this week!

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