Although not all winters are created alike but the slushy roads and ear-reddening wind chills can derail the strongest of minds and plant dreams of abandoning the long icy winters and move your lives to the warmer shores of California, for instance. But studies show that happiness and satisfaction have nothing to do with the more accommodating climates. And, if one is successful in making their dreams of warmer shores a reality they will soon find that some things are lost as well along the way. With the adversity of winter also arrive a few gifts that take a little effort to see. Here are a few perks I get out of the frigid winter months of Chicago.
Warm and Fuzzy Self-Pampering
I look forward to my warm snuggly slippers I can only wear in the winter inside the home. Too sweaty for the summer this little luxury waits for the winter to set in. And not to forget the hot water bottles, they don’t need to wait for arrival of an illness to warm you up. Too cold? Pull out the warm water bottle and pamper yourself a bit. One perk of winter is self-pampering with warm and fuzzy accessories for outdoors and indoors alike.
The Stillness of Time
Steam oozing out of a warm coffee mug, a writer’s pen scribbling in haste on white paper, over a quietness and stillness only known to winter when all bugs and insects go away and a layer of snow sits on everything from the ground to the leafless branches of trees. There is no sound outside, even of birds that have flown away. It is pin drop silent. The quietness stills the mind, gives the moment peace to reflect on life’s big picture. And, one reason I absolutely love writing in the winter. Although winter activities are abundant, I like to take in the quietness by sitting by the window and doing nothing at all except maybe sipping on my hot cocoa.
Bonus Holidays and Family Time
My first reaction to school closures was not as positive as I have matured to realize over time. Snowy day school closures are indeed a bonus holiday and there is no other way to look at it. Instead of you carefully planning the holidays, here is a nature’s gift that you should make the most of in the warm interiors of your home. Board games, card games, Charades find a happy home in your home fostering an environment rich in bonding and family time like no other. Winters are also unlimited movie time in my home. With or without holidays, my family spends more time indoors in the winter inventing newer ways to enjoy family time.
Fireplace Snuggle Time
Just like my warm furry slippers, or hot water bottle, or my soft scarf that only gets pulled out in the winter, fireplace lights my family room and we huddle in front of the fireplace snuggling and sharing a private moment at home. Alone, I love to sit with a book and a blanket enjoying the warmth from the fireplace, a luxury only winter gifts upon me.
Timeless Unique Beauty
Winter wonderland is a term coined out of experience of white winters when the beauty of surrounding is like no other. Not to mention in cold places all seasons are magnified; Spring is more blossoming, Summer more breezy, Fall more fierce and Winter more magnificent. The contrast presents a mini vacation in itself that removes the need to travel elsewhere to see something different. You can enjoy the fierce contrast right in your home and camera finds happy place in all seasons. I reflect the same sentiment when I look at our photo galleries that contain family photos and then season photos. The beauty of winter in the same sense is so unique, where every branch of tree is loaded with snow drooping the branches down like a beautiful umbrella and the pine trees are also coated with white like an artist’s work. All my homes have one thing in common-tall windows and each season a magnificently different view.
Bragging and Whining Rights
“Guess what the wind chill was this morning” I say to my best friend in California and the exchange elicits the most sympathetic response from her. It is not so bad, I know but I love the bragging rights of the endurance folks living in relatively warmer weather give you. Don’t get me wrong some days are really rough, -50 Fahrenheit where even a cry out in the open is costly with tears frozen right on your face. It is truly rough and that’s what also makes great stories as well. Winters are not dull at all.
Hot Cocoa Takes a Whole New Meaning
Hot Cocoa in winter literally warms the heart and uplifts the spirit and just belongs in the winter months. Although we enjoy these hot beverages all year round, winter with hot cocoa and warm cookies melting in your mouth is just a match made in heaven.
Makes Spring and Summer Time Sweeter
By March when you have had enough of the snow, you are ready for the next chapter and Chicagoans make use of warm sunny days in a different light. Sunlight is a prized possession and not burnt in waste. For example, after having endured my first winter in Chicago, first warm weekend in march when it was in 70’s, we drove about 30 minutes north to Grass Lake, and it was packed with people boating, barbequing and kids running around. We appreciate summer a lot thanks to the contrast winter teaches us.
Frosty the Snowman and Snow Angels
Not only winter presents easy opportunities for snow sledging, snowboarding, skiing, it presents simpler opportunities such as making a snowman’s nose with a carrot, or my kid fully clothed in winter gear making snow angels on the ground. These are little pleasure, too precious to overlook and give up.
Larger-Than-Life Christmas Ambience
We spent a couple of Christmases in tropical paradise of Hawaii and Caribbean. There were lights ok, but they lacked the grandness we are used to in Chicago. Not only the houses boast more magnificent display of lights around the matching snowy surroundings, the magnificent mile in downtown Chicago, the airport, all the Chicago landmarks, the parks-they light up in pomp that fireworks know on 4th of July. Christmas feels larger in Chicago winters.
Not too far back, on Christmas day when we were in Hawaii, we walked into a shaved ice place where a kind lady dressed for Christmas, the whole nine yards, bonded with us just because we were from Chicago, 5 hours away from her hometown of Minneapolis. At first we could not understand the loneliness of the lady in Hawaii (which fit perfectly well in all my dreams) that almost brought her to tears on Christmas Day. But, it did not take long to appreciate the grandeur of Christmas and value of being close to family. We came back that winter to Chicago without complaints and surprisingly grateful for all it had to offer.
There is warmth of the summer and there is the warmth of warm treats in winter and the two are just not the same. When I first moved to Chicago, I wanted to move to some place warm and there came a point where I had to resign to my fate. It took a little more maturity in thought and time in Chicago to appreciate the gifts we get in winter. I feel lucky to have learnt the lesson this way versus the hard way learning after moving our lives elsewhere to find, that with the cold winters gone, you lose a little more. If we ever move, it will not be to avoid the winters of Chicago for sure