Seeking and Savoring Winter Joy!

By: Sandy Churchill

As a self-proclaimed sufferer of seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.), I can share that winter is a tough season for me. The lack of light, freezing temperatures, and bleak monochrome days can dampen my spirits from the moment I rise in the morning. As a “Gemini girl” and typical optimist, I prefer the sunny side of things but have had to teach myself to become a treasure-seeker in the chilly months of winter.

Following are a few strategies that might help broaden the appreciative perspective of winter, for those who dwell in the bliss of beachy waves and spring picnics (which are coming soon!).

Some of winter’s glorious gifts are found in nature, discovered on a woodsy walk, snowy hike, or even a trail trek using snowshoes. Try “treasure-hunting” for nests, now visible among bare tree-limbs, and listen for the birds that stay through the season. The birdsong can be all the more beautiful, as it is a rare gift in winter.

Seek adventure sports unique to winter—go sledding, snowtubing, ice skating, snow-boarding,  or skiing, and make the most of the snowy weather. Feeling more nostalgic? Try and book a horse-drawn sleigh ride as a treat, or hold a wintry outdoor campfire. One neighbor of ours holds an impressive Christmas tree bonfire each January, and the flames throw enough heat to warm everybody gathered around the blaze.

Savor the culinary gifts of steaming stews, warm casseroles, and Superbowl chili! Work on perfecting the ideal grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, or crafting your own cocoa concoction with added peppermint, butterscotch, cinnamon, or dollops of whipped cream.

Hold a valentine tea—invite family and friends over to create good old-fashioned cards, sample homemade fudge and share the sweetness of the day on the dark days of winter. This has become an annual tradition at our house, begun when my girls were pre-teens, and now we eagerly embrace the tradition as adult mother-daughter fun.

Raid your closet for your favorite cozy sweaters, soft scarves, and fuzzy mittens. I have a friend who buys her clothes more for texture than anything else. Do the same for a favorite snuggly blanket or afghan. Drape your favorites over a couch or rocking chair for a special reading spot or movie-watching haven.

Embrace color! My mom always opts for vibrant yellow, glorious crimson, or cheery fuchsia on dreary days, so much so that when my teen son was little, he would insist he and I wear “happy colors, like Nana” on dreary weather days. It works! To this day, I reach for orange, yellow, lime, turquoise and pink on cloudy, snowy, or drizzly mornings. Personally, the pop of color has an instant impact on boosting a gloomy mood.

Candles, incense, and hearth fires, oh my! Embrace a bit of flame to fend off the early darkness or enjoy candlelight and scented oil diffusers to help celebrate winter, instead of avoiding it. Fragrances of balsam, fir, cedar, cranberry, and cinnamon befit the season, while citrus, bergamot, and eucalyptus send a cheery lift into the air.

Whatever options you decide to try, strategies abound for savoring the winter season, and you might one day embrace the season, for its myriad gifts and possibilities!

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