Here we are in mid-December and the cold weather is surrounding us with “all things dark, cold, icy, and wet.” We know what time it is….
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In New England, it is human hibernation time; the time when we avoid going out into the bitter cold. We venture out mainly for the things we must do like going to work or school, running errands, attending church, keeping volunteer commitments, and clearing the driveway after it snows. In the winter months, people often find themselves becoming more sedentary – some even reach professional couch potato status.
Of course, there are those people who relish participating in cold and snowy things like skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, or the dreaded yearly polar bear plunge into the Atlantic. God bless them, especially the children who love to be out playing in the snow, but this article is for those who cower from the cold and long for the light and warmth of spring.
So then, the question this article presents is: what can we do to help us ride out the approximately 89 days of this winter season without ending up bored, ten pounds heavier from couch potato behaviors, and disappointed in ourselves because we’ve used up a chunk of our limited days on earth by staring at the TV or computer screen until our eyes glaze over?
The answer is that a lot can be done to make this time of year more fun, fruitful and fulfilling, and what’s great is that it can be done without including technology and without leaving the confines of our warm dwellings. In fact, things will work better if cell phones, computers, and TVs are not allowed to be part of these activities. Curious? Intrigued?
Whether you live alone or not, doing some of the activities in this article will not only help us survive the winter but also thrive. They can even provide us some fond memories of the Grand Hibernation of 2018.
Are you in? Okay, let’s get started.
1. Gather Around the Table:
As small or humble as your dining table may be, bring people together around it to resurrect the lost art of the family (or friend) dinner. Did you know that there was once a time when family dinners would last more than fifteen minutes and usually happened every night? There was a time when people would linger around the table, eat slowly, and engage in meaningful conversations.
Throughout history, people have gathered around an eating scenario (fire or table) and shared stories of their culture’s history, family history, fun stories, or their thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics. Gathering around a table promotes many positive social, intellectual and spiritual results, including creating a sense of belonging and love. For those who live alone, invite some friends, extended family, and neighbors for a potluck or a home cooked meal if that is something you have time for and enjoy doing.
As a caution, the idea or practice of a relaxing dinner without technology allowed might shock some people, so make sure you tell everyone in advance that the meal will not include cell phones at the table or televisions on in the background.
The meal doesn’t have to be fancy. For those not used to a relaxing family dinner, it is suggested that the environment is changed to help slow it down and make the time more special. Lower the lights or just use candles. Try to make this happen at least once a week and soon it will be something everyone will enjoy.
2. Revive the Art of Letter Writing:
E-mails and texts are efficient, but they are not always as organic and meaningful as taking the time to sit down, think about someone, and handwrite a letter to a friend or relative down the road or across the country. With technology, we digitally “attach” things that we can’t hold or touch, but with letters, we physically insert things in real envelopes.
Think about adding a print photo, a little gift like a bookmark, your new business card, a prayer card, or a clipping from your local newspaper as an added surprise for the recipient. Use good stationary or decorate a regular piece of paper. Decorate the envelope too. Getting a letter in the mail will be a delight for someone to receive instead of their usual bills and junk mail. It is doubly fun if the person writes a letter back to you.
3. Arts and Crafts:
Arts and Crafts are not just for kids. Many adults make lots of money creating crafts and selling them on online or at craft shows. It is something that can be done alone, with kids, or friends. There are literally hundreds of fun and simple projects to do on a cold and wintry day. A trip to our local Michael’s store on Airport Rd. in Westerly can provide plenty of arts and crafts supplies for any event. Resist the use of technology during this time except perhaps for some background music to add to the fun.
4. Board and Card Game Nights:
Remember Monopoly, Clue, Aggravation, Life, Chess, Pictionary, Checkers, Charades, and card games like Uno, Setback, and Canasta? Invite friends, neighbors, and family over for game nights, or just keep it to the immediate family members who live with you. Provide popcorn, chips, veggies, and dip and have some great fun.
5. Planning, Doing, and Reflection Time:
Take some time to plan out your year, either alone, with your spouse, or your children. Talk about the young year of 2018 and how you want to fill it. What are your goals as an individual or a family? Plan things that need to be done around the house or garden throughout the year. Make a schedule on a poster board instead of the computer, post it on a wall, and check it off as things get done throughout the year. Get things organized around the house.
Winter is a great time to clean out closets and go through every nook and cranny in the house. Plan that big vacation you’ve always wanted. Create a household budget or review the one you already have. Brainstorm a bucket list and post it so you can be reminded to try and accomplish some of the items during the year.
Take some reflection time. Are there areas in your life that you need to improve? Are you the best person you can possibly be? What bad habits do you need to get rid of and what good habits do you need to start? Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already broken your resolutions for 2018. Each day is a new day to start again.
6. Improve your Cooking or Baking skills
Cooking or baking is something everyone can learn more about. Invite friends and family to join in with each person taking on a specific task. Let children assist while by cutting up veggies for a salad, or buttering up some garlic bread. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn cake decorating or develop your skills with wok cooking or pizza making. A warm kitchen with delightful scents emanating from it on a cold winter’s day is inviting and comforting.
The frigid temps, inclement weather and longer nights make it easy for us to go into our personal hibernation modes but resist the temptation to become “one with the couch” and take some serious breaks from all that time on technology. The dead of winter doesn’t have to be cold, boring and miserable. It can be more than just a time to hunker down and wait until the crocuses pop their little heads out of the ground in the early spring. This season can be a regrouping or a reorientation of our priorities and a refocusing of our lives.
What are your ideas for surviving and thriving during the winter months? Please share them! Please write your ideas in the comment section at the bottom of this article.