For some winter is a season of cold air and bliss, and for others- such as myself- it can feel like a barren wasteland between the bright lights of Christmas and the first warm days of spring. How can we actually enjoy winter, especially when we are longing for it to pass? Well I can’t make you fall in love with the cold, but I can offer a new perspective that just might make you actually enjoy the winter!
Leaving behind a season of twinkling lights, glittering ornaments, and the decadence of the holidays is always bittersweet.
My heart is to rush from the joy of Christmas into the windswept days of spring. But a wasteland lies between.
The blue sky lies sleeping tucked beneath a blanket of clouds and the moon sails in before dinner can even be set on the table.
It is a season of slow.
A season of barrenness, emptiness, and a longing for something new to bloom.
For years I have skipped over this season.
Draping my hope in store bought peonies, tulips, and pastel colors to offset the gray sky just outside the window. Nurturing small seeds in the window sills as tender plants emerged amongst the barren landscape.
We embraced the days when snow fell fresh on the lawn, but on every other day, we hibernated- awaiting the warm embrace of springtime.
Until last year.
Last year I tucked away the Christmas tree and invited in the freshness of spring. Beside my house something different was growing- a forest of evergreens.
Dried grasses grew where my wild blackberries had once been and a new kind of beauty showed its face- a barren beauty that only this season holds.
So I tucked away the blossoms and sealed the seed packs, and chose to embrace winter for all that it has to offer. I’m so glad I did!
And this year, I hope you will too.
A Season of Slow
As Mamas, we are busy, busy bees.
I used to really hate that word. I tried to remove it from my vocabulary.
“I’m not busy, life is just fast paced.” or “Oh no, I’m just… I just need more time.”
Let’s face it, we are busy.
Between a handful of kids, homeschool, planning, gardening, budgeting, baking, cleaning, endeavoring, and cooking 3 meals a day- life is busy.
And that is okay.
But something strange happens at this time each year.
The garden dies away, the chickens slow their laying, the trees lie dormant, even the day turns in early.
All of nature is at rest.
The bugs beneath the rocky soil know their summer raids are coming. Wildflowers hang up their brightly colored clothes and sleep until the sun nudges them awake.
It is as if Mother Nature has put all her children to bed beneath a blanket of snow, and she herself, unlike us, chooses to rest for a little while also.
Mamas, this barren landscape of winter is an invitation to us.
Inviting us to slow down and embrace this season of rest.
The thing is- we need it.
We may pretend we don’t. We may even convince ourselves, but the truth is our bodies are longing for rest.
Spring and summer are coming.
The gardens will bloom, the chickens will lay, the birds will chirp, and we too will flee our winter nest to can jam and chase our littles through rainy days once again.
But not today, for this is the winter, a season of slow.
How to enjoy Winter: 5 Simple Tips
1. Bring the Outside, In
With every season our homes tend to reflect the beauty we find in nature.
As Christmastime passes and we tuck away the evergreens, the landscape of both home and nature reflect an empty scene.
In my own home right now, it looks like the Grinch came through. There is nothing more than some hooks and some wire where natural wreaths and pops of red lived only a week ago.
In the emptiness though, I feel a fresh start.
A new year filled with new hope.
While the landscape lies sleeping beneath a blanket of winter wonder preparing for the year ahead- so do our homes!
Winter is a beautiful time to embrace the minimal look reflected outside.
So grab a basket, and collect the rough branches of the evergreens and the tall dried grasses of the field.
Compose them into vases and arrangements just like you would with your lupines in summer.
Stack firewood in corners or beneath the mantle.
Dry oranges and grapefruits to compose in jars or on garland.
Light some beeswax candles and invite the outside, in! (Want to make your own beeswax candles- winter is the perfect time to do it! Grab our full blog on non-toxic DIY candles here!)
2. Winter Homemaking
Those bits of peeled paint on the trim that daunted us in the summer. The small tears in fabric and throw pillows that we swore we would mend later. That rug that isn’t as white as it once was and begs for a little elbow grease.
These, too, have weathered the busy months of summer and autumn.
The times when we rushed in and out with pitchers of water in the summer drought.
Those times when our littles clomp through the house in mud soaked rain boots.
It was a year of hustle and bustle, get togethers, unexpected visitors, and little curious hands.
The winter is a time to slow down and touch up those areas that we can’t get to in the summer.
It is an opportunity to tackle the projects of home, and set the stage for the busy year ahead.
A time to clean out, minimize, organize, and embrace the emptiness with a slower, calmer home.
3. Tis the season to eat!
Winter is the season of eating!
Eating rich meals and hearty stews is one of my favorite ways to enjoy winter!
I’m sure there is some ancestral instinct here- to eat more so we don’t freeze to death or something.
But it is also true that we are in the house more. The stove that we slave over in the summer feels like a warm hug now.
Hearty soups, stews, and chilis simmer on the stove top, and plush loaves of rich bread rise in glowing ovens below.
This season is all about root vegetables and hearty, filling meals!
Try new soup recipes and put your crock pot to good use! Roast a whole chicken and make broth from the bones.
Tis the season to eat!
4. Learn Something New
If you have ever desired to learn a new skill: to sew, crochet, knit, paint, or maybe even to cook or bake- this is the perfect time to do it.
January, here, often feels like it consists of a thousand days, and though February is the shortest month- it tends to drag on also. We usually have many days spent inside catching up on school and books we have wanted to read.
The winter is the ideal time to try a new hobby or get back to one you have had to lay aside. Last year I took up finger knitting (which I still a not very good at, but I managed a couple of scarves for the kids) and read The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy finally! (I highly recommend!)
If you have ever wanted to pick up quilting or the art of sourdough, now is the perfect time! (Check out our simple sourdough starter guide here!)
5. Embrace the Slower Pace
We have a tendency to take the gaps in our schedule and try to fill them.
While I know there is most always something that needs to be done, embracing the slower pace of winter is one of the greatest ways to enjoy this season.
Sit with a cup of coffee and watch the snow fall.
Cuddle up and enjoy a movie or a book you’ve been wanting to read.
Take a breath or write out some of your favorite memories to share with your kids someday!
Don’t try to fill in the slow parts with all the things you want to get done, embrace the slower pace and actually enjoy winter!
The Beauty of Barrenness
We don’t need camera lenses, creative editing, or wonderfully woven words to help us capture the beauty of the fruit in the summer, the wildflowers of spring, or the leaves of autumn. But for some reason we overlook the beauty of winter.
Unfruitful, unproductive, dormant.
A season of stillness.
But what a wonder that God would offer us a season of rest!
A time to plan, indulge, slow down, and dream of the year ahead.
Knowing that the tree will once again bear its leaves and share its fruit. Acknowledging that a season of work is approaching.
And yet, He invites us into this time.
A sacred, holy, and barren ground where little is growing and yet roots are deepening, limbs are resting, and the soil is replenishing. Seeds sown in seasons past sleep just below the surface.
A holy resting ground right here in the barrenness of winter.
Planning and Preparing for a Season Ahead
Unlike the brown bears fast asleep in their dens, we do not dream away the season. Instead we use this time to prepare and plan for the year ahead.
On the horizon, long days await us.
The summer sports, the garden rotation, the hatching of chicks, and the business of another full year of holidays, birthdays, and every little joy in between.
But for now we can take a deep breath.
This is a time to dip our toes into inspiration.
To set goals and plans for the year ahead.
To dive deep into God’s plan and seek His will.
This is where we plan our gardens, ready our homes, draw out that landscaping we want to do, and embrace each day with a slower pace.
So grab a cup of fresh chai tea or coffee, cozy in by the fireplace and embrace a new year with prayer and planning. Learn to knit, crochet, or master needlework. Sew some new pillows or try your hand at watercolor or sourdough.
All of those things you dream of someday doing, find their starting point, right here, in the dead of winter.
The Wonder of Winter
I grew up reading Little House on the Prairie and I used to dream of days with snow piled past the windows.
Even as a kid it was Ma Ingalls who caught my attention.
The way she dusted the cozy cabin, swept the hearth, and made little corn cakes in the bitterness of winter. Yet Laura wrote those seasons in so much light- but it wasn’t the fire or the scent of the clove apple that brightened the dark winter days.
It was her Ma- as keeper of the home– and her Pa with his wild stories and cheerful songs.
I love the title of Homemaker, but it is in the winter when that title truly bears its light.
When the sun sets early and the trees hide their faces, it is within the walls of our humble homes where a new light is kindled.
A soft glow of laughter as your family spreads out around the table pinching off fresh bread and dipping second helpings into soup stained bowls.
The evergreens and pinecones nestled on the table. The orange slices and tapered candles adorning the tops of doorways. This is the simplicity of a slow winter, and it starts and ends with the work of home.
For spiritual homemaking encouragement visit our blog: Cultivating Culture Within Your Own Home
Facing the Bitterness of Winter
I know that for some of us seasonal depression seeps in this time of year.
I hope to encourage you not to look at this as the mundane music of another bitter cold month, but rather as the slow building up of a symphony approaching its crescendo.
There is beauty in every single season- in every single day.
Even in darkness.
The light shines in darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. (John 1:5)
In the rush of a fast paced life, welcome this season.
Embrace its call. Embrace this season for what it has to offer rather than wishing it away for sunny afternoons.
Spring will come. The days will grow longer, and the nights will shorten once again. But for now, rather than rushing past the season, let’s slow down and find ways to enjoy winter for the barren season it is!
So, pick up a new hobby or project.
Embrace those you love and find joy in the simple work of your hands.
Light a soft candle and sit near to those you love.
Read by the firelight.
Write out your thoughts, dreams, and observations.
Take a lesson from the mighty oaks, lay down your leaves, and rest, knowing that you will once again bear the fruit of another year.
This is winter.
Learn how to enjoy winter and Embrace the beauty of a barren season.
Let us know your favorite ways to enjoy winter in the comments down below!