Embracing Those Cold Winter Months

This past summer I overheard one of my siblings state that it was difficult to enjoy autumn ... just knowing what comes right after.  My siblings live in upstate New York, where indeed the winters can be brutal and long.  To tell you the truth, even though I have lived in much milder climates the vast bulk of the last 34 years, I guess my blood has thinned out and even Texas Hill Country winters can feel difficult!  As my son says, you have to embrace those things you don't care for but can do nothing about.  So, as the cold weather approaches, I strive to embrace the months of chilliness by looking for special things to do ... hoping that I might learn to actually look forward to the winter months!  Here are a few things that have helped:

1) Tweak the Holidays - If your holiday seasons tend to be stressful or disappointing, strive to make a change.  Do something different in an effort to better enjoy the season.  For me, this meant/means reducing.  Reducing the amount of shopping, money spent, and expectations.  It might mean something else for you ... but striving to discern and act upon Jesus' desires for His birthday - can make the season much brighter.

2)  Discover A New Hot Beverage -  Maybe check out the tea aisle in the grocery store; there are lots of fun teas available.  Or, indulge in hot chocolate ... get a REAL recipe using REAL milk and REAL chocolate. Or, browse the beverage section of your cookbook and see what you can find. Grant yourself a 15-20 minute break in the afternoon, and relish the taste and warmth of the drink.

3) Carve Out Meaningful Time With ChildrenGrandchildren, Or Nieces/Nephews - Studies consistently show that playing with children is beneficial to the adult as well as the child.  Also, nurture your "Domestic Church!"  Research very clearly shows that sharing the faith at home has a far greater impact than simply outsourcing religious instruction.  Maybe come up with an Advent or Lent tradition, make story time about saints or the Bible, teach them about some of the windows or statues in your church, or see if Pinterest has any ideas that look like fun.

4)  Learn An Indoor Craft - Creating something is usually very satisfying. One winter I taught myself how to crochet and found it to be a very relaxing and enjoyable hobby. The trick is to do something that you honestly find interesting. A stroll up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby might spur on an idea or two.

5) Make One Pot Of Soup Each Week - Nothing says warmth like homemade soup or stew.  It's a good way to stay trim during the winter months, and some recipes make enough for leftovers for another day.

6) Stop By A Church To Hang With God For A Bit Or Go To Daily Mass Now And Then - It will warm your spirit.

7) Do Get Outside - If you can just forge through that first few minutes, a bit of fresh air can do wonders.

8) Develop A Winter Exercise Routine - Consider coming up with an inside routine that you can do despite the weather. Chapter 8 in this book offers a nice stretch routine; it's a nice alternative to yoga (I'm wary of yoga), it's not overwhelming time and equipment wise, it really gets the blood flowing, feels good ... and ... warms you up!  Peggy Bowes offers wonderful advice on blending exercise with prayer.

9) Find A Good Book - You might be inclined to rely on technology/social media a bit more when more hours of your day are spent inside, but try reducing your technology time and find a book that really grabs your fancy.  An intriguing book, a favorite blanket, a mug of ginger-peach tea, and a comfy chair ... the thoughts of winter will drift away ...

10) Embrace A New Saint Or Two With A Cold-Weather Feast Day - Try learning about a saint you know little about and see if he/she can inspire and distract you from the chill in the air.  Below are some you can find in the Bible ...

Cold Weather Bible Saints
November 19  -  St. Obadiah
November 21  -  St. Rufus
November 22  -  Sts. Philemon & Apphia
November 30  -  St. Andrew
December 1  -  St. Nahum
December 2  -  St. Habakkuk
December 3  -  St. Zephaniah
December 16  -  St. Haggai
December 18  -  St. Malachi
December 21  -  St. Micah
December 26  -  St. Stephen
December 27  -  St. John the Evangelist
December 28  -  The Holy Innocents
December 29  -  St. King David
January 1  -  St. Mary
January 25  -  St. Ananias
January 26  -  Sts. Timothy & Titus
February 3  -  Holy Simeon & St. Anna the Prophetess
February 15  -  St. Onesimus
March 19  -  St. Joseph
March 20  -  St. Archippus