Winter Has Entered the Chat
While we anxiously await the first snowfall, we remember that the holiday spirit does not lie in anything tangible. The reality is that the season’s foundation rests on community and contentment. Year after year, we get wrapped up in the commercial shell that has encased the holidays but try to remember the essence of its core. It is a time to slow down, be present, and appreciate what the last year has brought you. Regardless of the ups and downs the past 11 months came with; it ended with growth. Enjoy these last few weeks of 2021 and start the new year with a renewed sense of self.
“Hygge” is a Danish term that means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being” (via The New Yorker). Take this newer foreign phrase to heart this year and accept the warmth this season usually lacks. Summer blankets of cotton and linen are ready to take up their seasonal closet residence in place of heavier alternatives such as wool and fleece throws. If there was ever a time to try out the weighted blanket, now is it. Flannel sheets finally reemerge amidst the lower temperatures to a welcoming embrace. Cuddle season is here, so wrap yourself up in soft layers from your scarves to sweaters to gloves. Turn on the fire and feel no shame in spending the weekend curled up with a good book or holiday movie. We are so busy the rest of the year that guilt often creeps in when we turn that off. Remember that winter is the perfect time to reflect on what self-care looks like for you.
The act of decorating for this beautiful 6–8-week period should not just be appreciated but joyful. Fall brought about deeper hues and spicier scents. That trend continues as winter blows into town. The heavier fall scents go a step further with the revival of fresh pine, firewood, nutmeg, and cider in the air. As your exterior flourishing foliage goes into hibernation, you do not have to lose all semblance of green outside. Try opting for faux succulents or classic small pine trees to keep your pots from their usual winter baldness. We are also HERE for the winter wreaths. There are so many colors, sizes, and styles that it is almost hard not to find one that speaks to you. If you find yourself with multiple bins of holiday décor sitting at your feet while you gaze around the room perplexed about how you ever fit this all before, do not fret. Just as those reusable bins can bringeth, they can also taketh away. Think of your decorations as accessories. Swap out your usual accessories with your holiday additions for the 6-8 weeks leading up to the new year. To carry these seasonal items into January without detection, consider making them more subtle and not holiday-specific. Wooden or ceramic trees, deer, candles, or snowflakes are all festive but neutral representations of winter. Just gently remind yourself that decorating is meant to be a personal expression of a joyous time.
Keep it personal. Maybe it’s the first ornament that goes on or who puts up the star, but whatever it is, be proud of your traditions. The expectations of the heralded Christmas pine rise each year to the point of being nearly unrecognizable next to the cornucopia of wrapped gifts. We fully commend a carefully curated tree complete with a color scheme, bows, and the like. Still, there is something very comforting about keeping this aspect of the holidays especially sentimental. It does not have to be a fashion statement. Sometimes watching your children put their first ornaments on the tree in excitement as high as their 3-foot-high frame can reach results in a bottom-heavy balsam. Rather than concerning yourself with your teen insisting on putting up the ornament that, despite your best efforts, has still not been thrown away, enjoy the moment of decorating together while it lasts. This green pillar of Christmas represents family bonding rather than a museum-bound work of art. Maybe the ornaments aren’t evenly distributed, but maybe that’s what makes it beautiful.
Now is the time of year to spend time with those you love and participate in whatever traditions are significant to you and yours. Many religious holidays fall closely on the calendar, but the celebration of being with the people you care about does not need to have a pious undertone. The modern mixed family can celebrate the holidays as fond memories—old traditions living on but not necessarily through spiritual aspects. Love is secular. It is essential to do whatever is best for you and your family, whatever that may be.
The only part that stays consistent about this time of year is how quickly it passes. Suddenly, it’s January, and you didn’t even enjoy the holidays because you were never in the moment. The real gift is to be “present.”