For many people, the months after Christmas are a real emotional letdown. After the anticipation and excitement of the holiday season — with its socializing, music, food, time off from work and school, gift giving and sense of heightened spirituality — winter months that follow can seem some of the longest and dreariest of the year. The darkness is no longer decorated with bright, glittering lights. The smells of evergreen and turkey no longer linger in the air. It sometimes seems as though there is nothing left to look forward to, except increasingly dirty snow and credit card bills, until the first flowers of spring begin to push their way towards the light.
To look at things in this way, however, is to give short shrift to the many pleasures of winter, a magical and fabulous season. The reality is that the traditional winter holiday season is just the beginning of the best period of the year. Here is just a short list of some of the reasons that wintertime is something to be relished.
First of all, of course, there is the food. When I think of winter, I think of rich, hearty soups that sustain the body and the spirit. My favourite soups are homemade pumpkin and those vegetable and noodle types. I like the soups that are so thick that the only after-eating option is sit back on a comfortable couch and flip through the pages of a thick novel or a good food magazine. An added benefit is that soups tend to be lower in fat and calories than many other meals. As well, soups have a way of “sticking to your bones” to satisfy your increased winter appetite without the detrimental side effects of many other comfort foods.
I am not suggesting that comfort foods — such as meatloaves, casseroles, hearty stews, roasts, and (for lovers of sweet foods, like myself) warm treacle puddings — are to be avoided. Far from it! Hey, it’s wintertime in Canada, and you never know when you’ll be stuck out in the wilderness and grateful for those extra calories to burn.
Besides the food, there is also the prospect of several months of snuggling up beside a burning fireplace with a favourite hot beverage in hand and wearing a musty-smelling wool sweater and faded cords. Every now and then, take a brisk walk around the block, with the fresh-smelling wind blowing full into your face, and make-believe you are Farley Mowat or a polar explorer.
Besides these pleasures, think of the winter season as an opportunity to watch the snowflakes drifting down, go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, and spend more time with your family. And no matter how old you may be or feel the rest of the year, don’t ever lose the sense of joy that comes with building a snowman or knocking enormous icicles from the eaves of a house.
Happy New Year, to one and all!