Embracing Winter as a Family Team

This might be the one Five Minute Fatherhood where I don’t speak because I have no idea how to do this. This one is embracing the winter-

No winter in Maui?

I know. Embracing winter as a family team, which I can talk about winter in Maui, which is right now, 79, 89. I mean, it was 89 degrees the other day in winter. That just means a little cool breeze. So I can’t talk much to this, but all jokes aside, I do think this is actually really important because you have to have a plan in those places. Washington was more like this with the rain, right, not the cold or the snow, where it’s just, it changes your life and how you’re going to go outside and play and toddlers and rituals and all these different things. I think it’s really important to have a plan to how to attack that season for the best of your family. So how do you guys do this in good old Cincinnati?

Oh man. Yeah, you can stop talking now Jeff, 89 degrees. It is freezing out today. It’s 32 degrees and I don’t know how cold it is where you guys are, I know it gets a lot colder other places. So I love what Jeff said about a plan. I really think that is important. And I read this amazing little snippet about winter from Bridget Anna McNeil, whose a British nature writer. And I want to just talk about what it means to really lead your family into a winter season.

And so she writes, “The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest going within our homes, within ourselves, and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year, which is coming to a close. Like nature and the animal kingdom around us, the time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds. Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time, alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, overspending, comfort food and consumerism. And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing, is strong and the weather so bitter, that people are left feeling that a winter is hard because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact, winter is kind. She points us in her quiet, soft way toward our inner self, toward this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting, and loving, embracing goodbye the last year.”

So what does it look like? I love the way she sort of describes the sort of thing that happens in winter, where you kind of are stuck inside and our reaction to it, which is just like, “How do we get comfort for our pain?” And so some things that I think are important to think about during the winter season, build a fire. We built and designed our house around a fireplace mostly for this time of year, because it is sort of miserable, but you can, I love what you… It also creates this focus. And one of the things you can do, even if you don’t have a fire, is you can take one of the rooms in your home, whether it’s with the space heater or something like that, you can basically make it the warmest room in the home-

A cozy room.

… where your family can kind of gather, make sure that the TV is off in that room and that kids can do little projects, that could be hanging out, where deep conversations can happen in that room, read to each other. This is a great time for journaling, for creating, for talking over warm drinks. I think it’s important to create little rituals. The English have tea time. That kind of stuff is so good during this time where you’re reading to each other, where you’re drinking stuff that’s warm and cozy and where you’re creating kind of a little bit of a womb or a little space in the house that just feels comfortable and peaceful, but also kind of gathers the family together.

So if you do live in a rhythmic kind of seasonal climate, unlike the Becky’s, I really encourage you guys, take advantage of it, enjoy the seasons and all the sort of new, different things that they enjoy. And then of course, once in a while, get on a plane and fly somewhere really warm, right? So you can just at least take a break, but yeah, I would encourage you guys, find ways to embrace the winter as a family team, figure out what that looks like. Don’t just sort of medicate the seasonal depression, but really find ways to sort of embrace it in creative ways as a family.

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