Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 5, 2005, Herald Journal

Winter – a magical time of year


Although winter is not officially here, the weather and our children tell us it is. With the change of seasons, we once again need to appreciate what the changes bring us, and view the transformation and all it has to offer through the eyes of a child.

With the small of amount of snow we have received thus far, as I write this article, I am sure children all across Minnesota are scurrying to get their “booted” feet and “mittened” hands into the fluffy white stuff to touch it, throw it, eat it, drink it, sculpt it, transform it, and just plain enjoy it.

And our big kids enjoy it, too. Whether it is snowmobiling, tubing, snow boarding or some other seasonal activity, they, too, find fun in the snow.

I know my children did just that, and they got me into the spirit, as well. Using our imaginations, we schemed up as many games and activities as our cumulative brains could imagine, with as much snow as was available.

Of course, we created the winter “must” – the snow angels. But the snow was too light and fluffy to make snow balls, so we just threw the lingering snow at each other. We played follow-the-leader, making as many tracks in the snow, in as many designs, as we could think of.

And as the daylight time is shorter now, darkness fell upon our play, which only added to the fun and imagination. The darkness, coupled with the fresh air, was exhilarating and almost magical.

And that’s how our children see the season – the most wonderful, magical time of the year. It again made me forget about the messy kitchen, and reminded me to “live in the moment” and enjoy what is before me – a wonderful atmosphere with my most beloved treasure, my family.

Our children truly are gifts given to us to remind us that we should not dismiss those moments of magic to indulge in the everyday cleaning tasks (because they will always be there for us to do).

I was also reminded of this lesson when my nieces and children were recently playing outside and were able to create a “snowman” out of practically no snow. They gathered snow (and mud) from everywhere and shaped it together to create a small snow person. They found some sticks for hands, some plastic flowers to adorn it, a carrot for the nose, a baseball hat to top it off, some rocks for the eyes, and this snow person was formed – if for just one day – reminding us to enjoy each moment and each day and all the “magic” it has to offer – because if we don’t, it will “melt” before we know it.

Let us all find “magic” in the snow this winter – just as our big and little children do.

Here are some more lessons that we learn, or should learn, from our children (from an article in Parents magazine, Sept., 2002 on Zen Baby by Judith Adler):

• Stick to one task until the end. (A child eating a huge pretzel.)

• Scatter joy. (A child playing in a sprinkler with a bucket.)

• Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. (A child indulging in the activity at hand.)

• To receive everything, one must open one’s hand and give. (A child reaching out for a hug.)

Simple winter fun

Here are some simple ideas to enjoy the season with your children. (Many of these ideas are from Parents Play and Learn, by the editors of Parents magazine, with Marge Kennedy and Karen White, Roundtable Press, Inc., 2000.)

- Hang a bird feeder or add bird seed to the feeders you have and keep them filled.

- Take a tour of neighborhood holiday decorations.

- Sing carols outside.

- Visit a Christmas tree farm.

- Play treasure hunt in the snow for items you have buried (such as pinecones, plastic colored eggs, or candy canes).

- Hang sleigh bells from trees and bushes.

- Build and dress a snow family.

- Bring cookies or some homemade treat to a housebound neighbor or person.

- Drink hot chocolate or hot apple cider on a park bench.

- Catch snowflakes on your tongue.

- Play follow-the-leader in the snow.

- Spray paint the snow with a spray bottle filled with water mixed with a little food coloring.

- Play tic-tac-toe, or catch, or Frisbee in the snow.

- Collect natural objects to add to the wreath on your door.