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11 Things I Love About Winter, Despite Depression

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There’s been so much pain and hurt in the world lately – more hurt than one can possibly focus on for any length of time before being sucked into the sadness and hopelessness that accompanies our current societal climate. And as the weather begins to change and the holidays approach, many people are gearing up for the “winter blues.” This time of year can be especially challenging for people, whether it’s due to seasonable affective disorder, being around toxic family members or the extreme changes in temperature; I hear people mourning the end of summer and dreading the beginning of fall and winter daily.

In the midst of all the current anger and grief and seasonal changes, I have to start thinking about something – anything – else to maintain my own sense of sanity. That’s when I started focusing on all the things I love about winter time. As strange as it may be for someone who struggles with major depressive disorder year round, I almost feel a reprieve from my symptoms during the winter months – exactly the opposite of what most people describe. So in the hopes of lifting your spirit and giving you something to look forward to, here are the top 11 things I love about winter:

1. Warm Drinks

a teacup and teapot

Whether you like hot chocolate, coffee, tea or apple cider, there are few things more soothing in life than curling up with a hot cup of your choice when the weather is cold outside and the moon is shining. Each sip warms your mouth and your throat, down to the very depths of your soul. I can’t help but utter an audible sigh of relief as I think of that first thirst-quenching sip: “Ahhhh….”

2. Holiday Lights

There is nothing like the extraordinary glow of holiday lights to ease the tension in my chest. It doesn’t matter if they’re colorful or clear, if they’re hanging haphazardly off a door frame or in a grand display; the glow instantly lifts my spirits. It’s almost like the light itself brings hope into the world by its symbolism in the dark, cold night.

3. Time with Loved Ones

Now, I’m not talking about toxic people that make you want to run and hide. I mean the loved ones we adore – that we miss all year round until we finally get to see them for some quality time around the holidays. I mean the people who you can go for months without talking to and then when you see them, you just pick up right where you left off. I’m talking about the people you look forward to seeing for weeks and run into their arms at the airport. And when it’s time to say goodbye, you can’t help but cry; but you’re not just crying sad tears because you’ll miss them, you’re shedding tears of gratitude for the memories made together and the void in your heart that they filled.

4. Children’s Anticipation

There is no comparison for the wonder and anticipation in a child’s eyes at this time of year. I elaborately decorate the house and wrap each and every teeny tiny present because I love the excitement that exudes from my children when they see it. It’s impossible not to smile when their faces light up like the sun. And my favorite part is the spectrum of things that create this reaction: from something as simple as a giant box (my 2-year-old’s personal favorite), to going to see a Holiday parade (my 5-year old’s choice) – the reactions are equally priceless.

5. Firelight and Candle light

Watching a flickering flame is the only way I know how to meditate. It’s transfixing and quiets my mind in a way nothing else can. Combine a candle with the lights of the Christmas tree and I’m memorized for hours.

6. Baked Goods

a bunch of christmas cookie on a table

Oh, how I love the smell of holiday baking! It fills the house until you’re standing at the oven salivating, wishing the delicious baked good would hurry up and finish cooking so you can put the delectable item on your tongue. Plus, it’s always rewarding to have your handmade creation transform from random ingredients to a delicious dessert (which if I’m honest, is not always the result, but I try and that’s what matters). I also love to bake for other people and gift them with sweet treats to last them through the season. It makes my heart happy to give to others and for them to know they were on my mind.

7. Christmas Music

Gasp! I know! I know! Listening to Christmas music is so corny and cliché, but I love it nonetheless. Maybe I love its wholesome message of love, giving and coming together, or maybe I just think the tunes are beautiful; either way, whenever I hear Christmas music, I can’t help but sing along. There’s something therapeutic about making music, and nothing gets me singing quite like the songs I’ve been caroling every year at this time for my whole life.

8. Decorations

a person's living room decorated with Christmas decorations

Decorations are seen as a nuisance to some, but they always bring me joy. I love how they transform a setting and give it a completely different feel. I love that there is so much glitter and how the light glints off of each shiny object. I love how all the decorations can each mean something different — some decorations are cute, some are funny, some are meaningful, some tell a story — and each person will interpret them in their own unique way.

9. Giving

Yes, there is a ton of consumerism and flat out cruelty around this time of year, but there is also a lot of kind-heartedness. From buying someone’s order in the drive thru line, to presenting a family with a truck full of presents they wouldn’t have had otherwise, to a handmade holiday card; there are so many ways we can cheer each other up this season and highlight the good in the world.

10. Packages

child looking out of a window at a Fedex truck

What is more fun than getting mail? I love getting mail that’s not bills or advertisements, and I especially love the mystery of a package. I’m not sure who gets more excited about the package delivery truck: me or my kids?

11. Warm and Cozy Materials

There is nothing more comforting than fleece pajamas, a warm fuzzy sweater or a sherpa blanket. Some people dread the cold, but I love when the temperature drops low enough that I can comfortably wear a coat, hat and gloves, or curl up in a blanket on the couch. I prefer to be underneath the covers all year round, so when it’s winter, I have an even better excuse to hibernate in my flannel sheets.

It should be said that I hold an incredible amount of privilege to experience this time of year in the way that I do. I could easily not have a family to celebrate with, a roof over my head, or the money to pay for activities or presents. I’m incredibly grateful for what I have and I hope that I bring joy to other people’s lives by using my resources and privilege for the benefit of others. I hope that recounting some of the things I’m looking forward to about winter has piqued your interest to look at what you might enjoy — however small it may be. And I hope this Winter brings you warmth, satisfaction and joy.

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Getty image via jakkapan21

Originally published: November 24, 2017
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