By: Sandra L. Churchill
Blinded by glistening snow-glare that is streaming through my front windows, I am confronted by mixed emotions—chilled by another 20-degree day with winds kicking up frozen swirls of newly-fallen snow, but grateful for the warmth of the winter-bright sun. As New-Englanders, we are blessed with four robust and lively seasons—yet sometimes it’s a challenge to find the blessing in torrential rain, aching backs recovering from shoveling the driveway, or lingering sunburns that blister and sap our energy levels. On the parenting front, we’ve tried to instill a seasonal gratitude in each of our three children so that they learn to seek the blessings in each season and hopefully retain an optimistic attitude as they embrace the challenges of each day.
Since wintry weather is the challenge at the forefront, I thought I’d share some of the hidden gifts in a New England winter.
The snowy weather and the storms that often push us indoors can also offer us an opportunity to work on a long-time goal or tackle a special project. Whether it’s a nagging task that seems to endlessly sit atop a to-do list or a much-loved hobby that seems forever relegated to the hall closet, nature is presenting us with a giant permission slip to stay indoors and get something done! So dig out those scrapbooks, finish that quilt, hang those picture frames, or stain that bureau in the basement… Cozy up with a new book or take time to pen that letter to a far-away friend. Winter gusts and snow-drifts are granting you permission to do so!
Get cooking! Whether you dig out your crockpot to create some comfort stews, enlist the kids to help with baking, or tackle a new style of cooking, winter is a perfect time to fill your kitchen with cozy scents and nourish your family with old-fashioned favorites.
Make a field trip “wish list.” A new museum, aquarium, or quirky tourist trap? How about a new Thai restaurant you’ve been longing to try…or that shopping plaza that seems a bit too far for your normal circuit of errands? Create a “field trip” jar of places you and your family would like to visit. When my daughters were little, we established an annual quest to Rainforest Café in Burlington to keep the Disney feel alive during February vacation.
With early darkness and chilly nights, winter can be a great time to learn something new. Whether it’s tackling a new craft, embarking on summer vacation plans, delving into e-Bay sales, or mastering a new language, the learning opportunities are endless.
Get a peak at springtime. Late winter can be; a great time to steal away to local flower shows and breathe in a little bit of gardening glory as an advance celebration of flowers, sunlight, and all things that will bloom in a few short months. Sometimes just a day out to savor the fragrances of mulch, blossoms, and peat moss can be all you need to restore hope in coming warmth and greenery.
Savor nature’s gifts. The welcoming scent of hearth fires, crisp pine branches dipped in winter frost, a full moon in a crystal winter sky, the glory of once-hidden birds’ nests perched high in the tree-limbs, the mellow warmth of hot chocolate after an outdoor hike in the woods… These are gifts best enjoyed in the winter months. Once embarking on such a “gratitude attitude” as we lovingly refer to it at our house, you may find the habit is tough to resist. Soon you’ll find blessings everywhere—the winter is full of gifts for each of us to enjoy.