Learning to Love Winter
It’s the dark season, the season of short days and long nights, coldness, darkness, freeze.
Everyone loves spring and fall and most people tolerate hot summer because of ice cream, but fewer people just love winter.
I am not one of them, but I am learning. I turn 30 this year, and I am learning to love winter. Mostly, I hate being cold. When I was pregnant, all that maternal fat and pounds of baby kept me warm, which was entirely unwelcome in the Memphis summer of 2007 when I carried Abby, but when I am just me, 125 pounds of skin and flabby, stretched flesh, I get cold bone deep. Nothing dispels it except maybe a fireplace, which we do not have, which is probably good because I’d spend too much time roasting and toasting myself before it and not getting enough housework done. Still, sometimes I take my book and my cup of tea and prop myself up before one of our space heaters (which I’ve stolen from the room of a child) and pretend I am C. S. himself, thinking deep and powerful thoughts that will someday find themselves on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.
So, winter. I was cozily tucked into bed last night and in a sublime state of sleepiness when I was called upon to go outside. Outside, into that frostiness and I was already wearing my pajamas. I wasn’t very graceful about it, but when I got out in the frigid air huffing away indignantly, I did happen to look up. I’m really not sure much compares to the beauty of winter stars. They look as though the frosty air has fairly burned all the impurities and vagaries out, leaving perfect, glorious, hard-edged diamonds.
If you are tired of winter, go out in the night and look at the stars.
But that’s not enough is it? No it isn’t. Not when people get seasonal depression and blizzards snow them in and friends do not call and the electric bill is very, very unkind, we need more than the frosty stars.
Anne Lamott writes, Nature explodes in winter and even more people die than in other seasons. The poor freeze and starve. It absolutely blows your mind how cruel nature and poverty can be. You almost have to turn away, and many people do. We see the brutality of life and nature, and also of what lives inside us. I don’t like to see this. It does not work for me.
So, books. There. You’re welcome.
Winter is the season of books. I rise earlier to read them without chubby fingers bending pages. In the shadowed morning, while the coffee stirs my neurons awake, books come alive, more lively than the weary evenings when I crawl to the couch and then to the bed and my neurons refuse to come out to play.
Books pile in a basket by our comfy blue recliner, fill our bookshelves, adorn our nightstands, and yet the post lady keeps knocking on my backdoor in the afternoons with more. Winter is the season to buckle myself to the chair and read more. Through books, I share in the collective thoughts of others who are far wiser than me; they are my companions, and they advise me, guide me, and in many ways improve me.
Maybe if you hate winter and feel it is the season of all things cold and uninhabitable, try thinking of it as the book season. Get a warm cup of something, a soft blanket, a nice spot by the fireplace (or space heater) and read. You might be surprised where it takes you.
On my winter booklist:
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
‘Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott (finished and highly recommended if you can tolerate some irreverence and unorthodoxy (Tim, do not read), she has a lot of great things to say)
The 5 Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman
Disappointment with God by Philip Yancy
Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything by Tullian Tchividijian
What would you recommend? What is your must-read book of winter? Don’t tell me that book you are lukewarm about but do tell me the one life-changing title I cannot afford to miss.
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