Winter has arrived, which means many of us who may be experiencing a distinct chill in the air these days are most likely wishing it were possible to move to the Caribbean, Australia, or perhaps even Venus right now. But what people may not realize is that there are so many reasons to embrace winter. In fact, since it’s my fourth favorite season, and I’ve spent more than a few winters here, I’m more than qualified to discuss the joys of winter that you might have otherwise overlooked. It’s never too late to get started because from where I’m standing, it’s clear that winter is only beginning.
Almost everyone who has lived with winter has been downhill skiing at least once, and they’ll most likely agree that it can be quite invigorating. There’s nothing like zipping down a hill with an icy wind whipping across your face, as your nose is running and your cheeks are burning, to make you feel alive. I’ve skied regularly since I was a kid, even though I don’t live in the most mountainous region. But there’s no need for mountains when you have landfills just begging to be used. If you think about it, it’s really the ultimate in recycling. What else are you going to do with all of those piles of garbage (especially since we accept some of Canada’s trash for cash—talk about your dirty deals)? Also, not only does skiing not require mountains, it doesn’t require snow either. Snow machines are always at work, spitting out ice pellets that create a more challenging and therefore rewarding experience. Forget that powdered snow of the Rockies. If you learned to ski on a sheet of ice, there’s nothing you can’t handle.
Even when the snow flies, there’s no reason to stay inside with the kids. In fact, I don’t recommend staying inside with the kids. Ever. Plus, there’s no need to find a playground when you have two feet of snow to play with; it’s like the whole yard is Play-Doh. Bundling up the kids only takes anywhere from two minutes to two hours, depending on the age of the kids (and always encourage them to go to the bathroom first). My personal tip is to make sure you buy several pairs of the same gloves at the start of the season. At the end of last winter, I ended up with fourteen unmatched mittens and gloves. Oh, and when you come back inside, avoid putting mittens on heat registers to dry them, lest you spend your days wondering who let the wet sheep in the house.
Once outside, there are a many different activities you can do, but building a snowman usually tops the list. You just have to make sure that the snow is good snowman-building snow. If it’s too powdery, the snow will just crumble apart in your hand. Too icy and you won’t be able to manipulate the snow to form balls at all. The snow has to be just right—kind of like my kids’ moods when we’re trying to do fun family activities together. On second thought, just skip the snowman building altogether and make snow angels. You can’t go wrong with snow angels.
Summer seems to get all the glory in this area, but winter is a great time to be in love. I’m not talking about the boring clichés of couples cuddled up on the couch, sipping hot chocolate by the fire or walking in a winter wonderland either. No, winter is the perfect time to show your significant other you care by doing acts of kindness for them. For example, the morning after a blizzard, you could go outside in the early morning dark and brush the snow off of their car and perhaps even start it for them too. Bonus points if it was an ice storm and you chiseled an inch off of their cars for them while trying not to fall on the slippery driveway. Some people may prefer heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and long stem roses. But for me, nothing says love like watching my dearest shovel a path out to my car. So if your idea of romance includes acts of love, then this Valentine’s Day, you may want your conversation hearts to also include something about snow blowing.
Even better than swimsuit season is sweater season. Sure, it may be fun to lie on the beach, but who wants to maintain that bikini body year round? It’s no accident that Halloween kicks off an entire holiday season of gluttony that coincides with the weather turning increasingly colder. You can eat all winter, hide under bulky clothing, and then use the whole spring season to get back in shape. It’s a perfect plan; in fact, I’ll have to try the second part of it some time.
Wearing multiple layers can also be a real time saver, possibly even allowing you to sleep even in a bit longer in the mornings. Consider that when the weather is warm, you have to get dressed even if you just want to make a quick run to the store. But in winter, just throw a coat over whatever you’re already wearing and call it good. So when the mercury dips and I’m dropping my kids off at school, I know I won’t be the only parent hiding my laziness under a hoodie.
People who are lucky enough to never have to experience wind chills below zero love to brag about how great they have it during winter. But if they get one small snowstorm, entire cities shut down. You know what I’m talking about, southern states. At the slightest hint of a flurry, people make runs on grocery stores, grabbing everything in sight, just in case. Because how will they buy bread and milk in the upcoming week if there’s an inch of snow on the ground? Apparently, those of us who live in snowy climates must hibernate like bears all winter. Come to think of it, this doesn’t sound so bad.
Unfortunately, we’re not so lucky, and so we’ve had to learn how to drive in winter. We understand that there’s an art to driving in ice and snow, an art that is perfected throughout each winter (even if those skills are promptly forgotten once everything melts, which always makes the first snowfall of the season feel like an Atlanta panic). But by March, we’re cruising on black ice like it’s nothing and doing donuts on purpose for the thrill of it. Really, winter driving could be considered a sport in itself. I should probably suggest this to NASCAR.
Spring is always seen as the time of renewal, but consider that there is something magical about watching snow fall. Even if the snow on the ground may seem old and gray, new snow constantly comes along and covers it in a fresh blanket. So when the snowflakes blow in, I take it as a sign of hope that better things are coming. To those of you who feel stuck in an endless winter, who might even dream of moving to another country, just remember that it can’t last forever and there are things we can do as we wait for it to end.