Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cozy: A Plan for Enjoying Winter



I love when the peonies in our backyard bloom and the trees burst into green leaves.

I love playdates and picnics at the park.

I love inflating our little pool in our backyard and watching the kids splash each other and eat popsicles.

I love late evenings when the sun sets after the kids go to bed, and I can sit on the deck and watch the moon appear.

I love watching the leaves turn colors in the fall and visiting the apple orchards and pumpkin farms.

I love the blur of Christmastime.

But then there is January and February, the dead of winter, when the branches are bare and the ground frozen and it stays cold and sometimes gray and gets dark around five p.m.  Winter is my least favorite season.

A few months ago I read an interesting article about northern Norway, where the residents are noteworthy for how little seasonal depression they experience and how they make the most of their winter months.  A phrase in that article struck me, describing how we in America by contrast, sometimes “bond by complaining about the winter.”

Yes, that would be me.  I complain about the dark, complain about the cold, complain about the gray, complain in a winter like this one when there is little snow, but also complained last year when snow cancelled my plans.  Complaint about the weather can be my status quo and my way of making small talk and connecting with people: “It is so cold today!  How are you?”

This winter I’m wanting to change that, and if you’re laughing at me right now because you know me and you’ve heard me complain about the weather in the last week—okay, I’m definitely a work in progress here.  But this winter I’m brainstorming for ideas of what I can love about the winter, centering around the key word:

Cozy.


Because I love being cozy, and winter is definitely the coziest season of all.  So here’s a beginning of what I love about winter:

The Quiet Rhythm

Other seasons are busy with vacations, yardwork, outdoor projects.  The kids swim and play outside and need showers almost every day.  The mess and activity and hours of sunshine is fun, but a bit tiring.

January and February settle into a quiet rhythm of school routines and indoor projects.  I love being home, staying inside, keeping clean, getting things done together.  The long nights encourage more sleep (though we don’t always do that!).

Winter is a time to hunker down and enjoy what we have.  It’s a working rest, the exhalation of the year.

Cooking and Baking

Our kitchen is on a cold edge of our house where I feel the chill in the mornings—until the stove, oven, and crockpot are all going, and then it’s nice and toasty.  In the summer I’m often casting about for menu options, but in the winter time I love cooking hot soups, baking pizzas or muffins, and preparing dinners in the crockpot.

Hot Chocolate

Making homemade hot chocolate is one of the ways our kids especially celebrate wintertime.  (Well, to clarify, I make it, they drink it.)  I use an immersion blender to quickly blend milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and maple syrup over the stove.  Sometimes I add other ingredients like a drop of peppermint oil, a drop of orange oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or salt.  It’s delicious and ready in a minute.

Hot Tea

I’ve already blogged about how much I love my new teapot.  Drinking hot tea throughout the day is so healthy and relaxing.


Books, Movies, and Blankets

I’m an introvert, and some of my favorite moments of life are when I’m curled up under a blanket enjoying a good book—or reading one aloud to our kids.  I also love cozying up under a blanket with my family to watch a good show or movie.  A blanket (or two or three) on every couch is a must.

Right now I’m enjoying For the Love by Jen Hatmaker.  I’m reading aloud Treasures of the Snow by Patricia M. St. John to my kids.  And in the evenings Ben and I are discovering the show Arrow.

Candlelight

My sister Anna gave me a beautiful fir-scented candle for my birthday, and when I burned it out in a week or two, I decided that purchasing a few more was a good investment.  Everything looks beautiful in candlelight.  And the scent is … well, in a word, cozy.


I realize the main reason I can enjoy winter is that I am privileged.  I have a warm house, warm food, and warm clothes. If I’m uncomfortable, I change the thermostat and set a kettle of water on to boil.  I don’t worry my kids will catch hypothermia in the night or wonder if hot water will flow from the faucet in the morning.  I know not everyone enjoys my privilege, and I want to help those who don’t.

And I also realize that no matter what the season, the true reason I experience joy is because of spiritual blessings like the ones listed in Ephesians 1: God took great pleasure in adopting me, redeeming me from sin, and letting me in on His plans.  These spiritual blessings far outweigh anything material I am enjoying in the moment. 

Every season, like I tell my kids, has things we love, and other things … not so much.  I’m grateful for the differences we can enjoy, and also for the truth that stays the same all year.

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