I remember walking behind a friend in fifth grade. It was gym class so she was wearing shorts and I noticed red marks on the back of her calves. Confused, I asked her what they were from.
Embarrassed, she told me her doctor prescribed the tanning salon as "bright light therapy" because the gloomy Seattle weather was making her depressed (I think she was actually diagnosed with SAD).
Ohhhh the Winter Blues.
Isn't it insane that it not only impacts us, but sometimes our children, as well?
I learned recently that January and February are the two hardest months when it comes to joy and energy.
Christmas is over and the sun comes up late, setting early. We still have months and months until the warmth of spring comes.
So how do we not get so blue?
How do we actually enjoy these cold winter months??
Now that we live in Denver and enjoy 300+ days of sun, we don't experience the same sort of depression as in grey Seattle...though we certainly have days where it's so cold, none of us wants to venture outside for too long.
As a family, we are intentional about slowing down during this season.
As you probably expect, we are very active and are all. over. the. place. for most of the year. Sports practice and games, races, outdoor activities, volunteering, music classes, conferences, camps, church commitments, road trips, parties, bbq's, play dates, and get togethers.
Nearly every day is filled to the brim - sometimes too full, actually.
Winter though, we make the decision to hunker down.
We still may do some sports, but if so, it's with a "fun" rather than ultra-competitive team. A team where the coach is alright if a practice or two is skipped, because we decide to take off and go skiing for the day...or just have other plans as a family.
We try - ever so hard - to simply not plan things. It's our time to be home and reconnect.
We watch movies and play board games, we sit down and play x-box together, we bake cookies or dinner as a group...and we just hang out, remembering how much fun we have with one another.
Believe it or not, we're actually more cheerful during this season because we have intentionality behind it and choose to cozy up and hang out.
It sometimes takes a few weeks for the older kids to value this season, but once they do, even they treasure it.
About midway though our slow-down season, our kids ask almost daily for massive slumber parties in someone's bedroom or Family Room. They'll even decide to stay home and play with their brothers or sisters instead of playing with other friends constantly.
Saying "No" to things and choosing to stay home and reconnect.
Working on the relationships of our kids, instilling in them that Jesus is first...and family is second.
It's good for us, especially since we're sort of an unconventional family. Because we continue to add children to our family, out of birth-order, we have an even stronger need and desire for bonding deeply.
I've heard the Scandinavian culture views winter in much the same way, so maybe it's in Ben and my Swedish and Norwegian blood.
We leave plush blankets on all our couches, just ready to be wrapped around chilly bodies. Books are everywhere and the fireplace boasts a roaring fire for nearly all waking hours.
Every Christmas the kids get new snuggly pajamas and this year, thick robes as well. I fit my feet into the prettiest of slippers and wrap myself in soft scarves when home.
These are the words I want our family to feel, both physically and metaphorically.
I have Pandora on constantly, playing our favorite station (which right now is Bethel with Jenn Johnson).
Appealing to the senses while spending intentional time together, that's what we do.
Like plants need winter, so do we: for it's in this season where roots grow. When they dig deep.
And that's what we want to do, too - to grow our roots as a family.
Reconnect. Work on our relationships and traditions and memories.
We want our kids to be more than siblings, but also confidants and friends. But this isn't something that's going to happen if we're always speeding from here to there every moment of every day.
Much of our life is like that, I won't sugar-coat it and tell you it's not. With a family our size, even with our children choosing only one sport or activity each season, that's six places to be.
So no Winter Blues over here...and so thankful for that.
What do you do as a family to reconnect?
Do you use winter intentionally in order to revitalize and renew your family, as well?
Would love to hear!