Today is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere…well, not officially, yet. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it starts at 11:19PM EST tonight, December 21st 2019. It is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight and boy did I notice that last night and this morning! And while it makes the days feel oh so short and I want to crawl into bed by 7pm (and I probably should one of these days), I love how cozy the darkness makes it feel this time of year.
It feels like it’s Mother Nature’s way of saying to us “slow down”. This all makes sense if when the word solstice means “sun stands still.” While we can’t drop everything and hibernate, we can find ways to embrace this season rather than waiting around wishing for spring.
First, as is our mantra here at Snow Happy, is to get outside. There is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Get on your warmest gear and take a walk. Go sledding. Discover a new winter sport like skating, snow shoeing or cross country skiing. Step outside with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and just breath in the sights and sounds of winter. How is it different?
Second, let yourself slow down. Stay home. Bring that pile of board games up from the basement. Rediscover the card games you used to play with your grandma. Find that book list you wrote down and start reading. Focus on creating instead of being entertained by technology – sewing, knitting, woodwork, painting, bake. How does it feel to make something rather than watch something being made?
Third, be still. Instead of pouring that coffee into the travel mug for your morning commute, take your cuppa at home. Cozy up by the fire or your favorite chair near a window and look up and be present to the day. Does this make your day different?
For us, getting outside and enjoying winter is the easy part. And we are lucky we live where we do…living in and near the mountains and loving the cold makes it easy. Making time requires work! Since the kids are out of school for a couple weeks and their activities are on hold, we try not to schedule anything. We may plan an experience or two, but mostly, we stay home and play, read, get outside. Fire up the kettle for cocoa, dust off the board games. One thing we are really working hard at is being intentional, and that’s what slowing down requires.
I’ve had many conversations over the years about whether I could live somewhere without four seasons. Have you ever thought about this? I mean it sounds amazing…perfect 70 degree weather everyday? Why not? And yes, while I definitely could do it, I really love the feeling of the changes in season. They all evoke their own feeling and inspire our senses in different ways. Sometimes those feelings are indescribable, but what I know now is that after a semester of school, half a season of hockey, music classes and gymnastics, we are ready to hole up together and be still.
Each moment of the year has its own beauty.-Ralph Waldo Emerson
So today and tomorrow, when the movement in the noontime sun is so imperceptible as it seems still, be still with it. Follow Mother Nature’s lead and see if in it you find the joy of winter.