When September rolls around each year, I have a sense of anticipation. The long hot summer days of Florida have started to wear on all of us. We’ve retreated into the recesses of our air-conditioned home to escape the bugs and humidity. So when September hints at the possibility of cooler weather, which is actually more likely to come in October, we are all about it. September and October are full and energized with activities and school and holidays. Then comes November. Something about late November makes me want to hibernate. Not really sleep but to draw my family closer, stay closer to home, and enjoy the coming winter season. But how to that? All the holiday parties, kids’ activities, all the extras that come with the winter months, they all feel obligatory and well, stressful! Is there a way to enjoy the winter season? For us, yes!
Some years ago I wised up and realized that I didn’t have to it all and doing it all wasn’t even all that healthy anyway. I wanted to enjoy the winter season with my family, spend more time hiking and outside together, and be more intentional with my time. The way I did this was to pull back. We take a break from our regular activities or pare them down come late November and December. I let my son’s soccer coach know that we likely won’t be there. I let my daughter’s volunteer coordinator know we are taking a slight break. We don’t make any firm commitments to parties or activities or even to family gatherings. For the activities we do choose to go to, I’m more intentional about our time, maybe coming later or leaving earlier if that suits our needs better. We also slow down our school.
At first the children are disappointed, and they aren’t the only ones. It’s amazing what people expect of others. But when we start our family traditions the complaints die away. They love this time together and these special traditions as much as we do. They love being outside and the count-down to the solstice, the fires, the hikes, the kayak trips. Pulling back in this way wasn’t easy, but it’s how I’ve found peace for us, more than peace, warmth and contentment in these winter seasons.