by Jennifer Moore-Kerr
Let it snow, let it snow … let it go, let it go …
Winter came early this year, leaving many of us cold, wet and none too happy. And yet, in reality, there is nothing that we can do to change the timing of winter’s arrival, nor how it arrives (leaving for another day the discussion of climate change and our role therein … ). What we can do is choose how we respond. And so, I choose this path, and I invite you to join me:
A cold, snowy day is a reason to brew a cup of hot tea, put on snuggly socks, and curl up on the couch with a good book. It mean fires in the woodstove, and candles on the table. The warm glow brings peace to a harried spirit. It can mean time working on a puzzle with a loved one. The Danish term “hygge” has come into common English usage as a reminder of these values.
Since my children were very young, on the day of the Winter Solstice we do not turn on any lights, using only candles to brighten our home. Over time, it became clear that we had discovered something nearly magical on that short, cold day. Everything slowed down, our home became peaceful and quiet, even when the kids were young and full of energy. At the time I had never heard of hygge. Now I embrace the concept, and invite you to join me in this tradition.
An early snow also gifts us the glorious tableau of autumnal reds and yellows, and greens with the new fallen white sparkling in the sunlight. Many of us bring those twinkling colors together when decorating our homes and yards for the winter holidays. This year nature, in all her glory, gave us a spectacular early glimpse of that beauty! And for that, I choose gratitude.
The passage of seasons can also mark the continued growth of our children, and all of those whom we love. Holding on to time, though so very tempting, is profoundly futile. And so I use this year’s abrupt seasonal change as a reminder to love and appreciate each moment, as well as to embrace each new season of parenting with the knowledge that I can choose to be present with where my children are today, as well as choosing to let go of my desire to hold back change. Sometimes changes are so gradual that we hardly notice them, and other times they come on quickly as an October snowstorm. In both cases, we can choose to let go of the illusion of controlling the passage of time.
This will be the first soccer season in which my now 17-year-old drives himself to practices in Madison. Because I love and trust him (and because I cannot hold time still), I will let go and plunge with him into this new unknown season. And I know that it will be full of both uncomfortable and profoundly beautiful moments. I choose to embrace them all with hygge, and with gratitude. May you also find hygge and gratitude in your winter.
Jennifer Moore-Kerr is a mom, a free spirit and a barefoot dancer living in Spring Green where she can walk to the river and commune with friends. In her spare time she leads discussions on meaningful topics in order to foster better civic, civil dialogue in the River Valley. She is delighted to share her thoughts on kids, time and nature on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on creativity, education and kids.