Friday, January 12, 2024

The Rookie Mama – Holiday Epilogue: Coming in for the snowy landing

By Michelle Cote
The Rookie Mama

“Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow
For all is hushed
The world is sleeping…”

Michelle Cote
This traditional Christmas hymn, as beautifully penned and as peaceful as it may be, is really more apropos for January, because during December young parents everywhere feel anything but hushed or still, still, still.

But, still…

We’ve made it to January, folks.

Here’s where things get back to crisp and even.

We’re coming in for the proverbial landing, as the holiday season wraps, and a new year begins.

Until recently, I dreaded the post-Christmas face-hurting tundra that blankets our region until mud season arrives in dirty, due time.

I wanted to teleport directly from holiday season’s end straight to driving with windows down and ‘90s hip-hop music loud on warm days.

But I’ve come to appreciate this stillness, this time of reflection.

Of course, my household is described by neither of those two things, but life’s now as peaceful as it will ever get in the calendar year; January and February are the touch of hibernation, moments to catch our collective breath.

Because like daylight saving clockwork, spring sports will sprout up and camping checklists shall ensue.

Spring will beget the mad dash of summer, a hot and humid sunscreen-slathered sprint of scheduled endeavors straight into fall sports and school days ­­– golden rule days – which winds us up for the calendar slam-bang finale, the mooooost wonderful time of the year.

There are seldom breaks or hushes or stillness of any kind between these bustling seasons until the new year comes again. I appreciate each season, but they’re an exercise in accelerated living.

And so, I’ve gradually come to find high praise for this juncture of low degrees – Talk about an epiphany.

For the two months known to send droves of Mainers to flee for warmer temps, there’s a pleasant lot to be said about this underrated time.

It’s time to put wonderland back in winter.

Consider these wintertime to-dos, many of which can be accompanied by hot cocoa and those candy canes your children amassed last month:

• Make paper snowflakes to adorn your newly de-decored home. Nothing beats the blues of packing away greens and reds like sparkling whites and, well, blues.

• Sled.

• Make a snowman.

• Play board games; teach yourselves new ones

• Cook or bake – Try recipes new for your crew. My oldest son tried his hand at homemade maple ice cream this week. What was truly savory was the gift of time to actually try such an experiment.

• Enroll your kiddos in swim lessons – Parents will appreciate the life skill; kiddos will love that taste of summer.

• Cover a table with paper, grab your paints and get your arts and crafts on.

• Bowl.

• Ice skate.

• Snowshoe.

• Build a snow fort.

• Build an indoor fort – No limits to the possibilities when combining kitchen chairs, blankets, and couch cushions.

• Take a hike – The forest is most magical in wintertime. What better season to identify animal footprints and gaze in wonder at crystalized nature frozen in time?

• Cross-country ski.

• Plan your garden – Daydreaming about spring is as cozy and hopeful as it is sustainable and practical – Gardening’s good for both your soul and your budget, whether you have space for multiple plots or a window-side pot.

• Watch winter sports ­– We love a hockey game.

• Fuel up on good reads from your local public library, and challenge yourself to discover their non-book offerings, too. There’s nothing quite like cozying up to good book during a winter storm!

• Camp out indoors – This is my family’s favorite, so I’ve saved it for last. Living room tenting is a temperature-controlled blast.

Our kiddos enjoy microwaving s’mores – fashioned with leftover chocolate Santas – and cuddling up in the tent to watch a movie classic. And that library I mentioned earlier? There’s a strong chance they offer free movies, too – Something to consider as you plan your evening lineup. There’s never been a better time to make good use of the sudden bonus square footage in your living room than after you’ve just removed a giant tree.

So embrace your inner child along with your actual children and create joy in a way that brings your family the heavenly peace.

Because this stillness of winter season will soon wrap up as a memory, tucked in far recesses of storage space along with your red and green totes from December, giving way to the next season before us.

So sled on, or stay in.

But don’t forget the hot cocoa or microwave Santa s’mores.

­­– Michelle Cote lives in southern Maine with her husband and four sons, and enjoys camping, distance running, biking, gardening, road trips to new regions, arts and crafts, soccer, and singing to musical showtunes – often several or more at the same time!

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