I love living in New England. One of the things I particularly enjoy is that we get to truly and fully experience all four seasons. Fall, in particular, is absolutely glorious here, not just a quick blip in time, like in some other places I’ve lived. However one of those seasons is, obviously, winter. That’s not naturally my favorite time of year, and we certainly do experience it fully! But even winter has its advantages. Peppermint mocha and mittens, for instance.
One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is choosing to enjoy whatever season I’m in – whether it is a season of life, whether it is a season of the year, or whatever the circumstances are where I find myself — instead of wishing for something different.
I remember when I was about 10 years old, we were living in Europe. It was an amazing experience, and one of my favorite places I’ve ever lived. But I had to leave all my friends in the US to go there, which made me sad. And then when I was about to move back to the US, I was really sad to leave Prague. I was pretty down about it, and in both directions. I remember my dad sat down with me and explained something that affected me deeply. He said:
‘You can be the type of person who is always sad about what things you don’t have right now – you can spend your time in Europe being sad you’re not in the US, and spend your time in the US being sad you’re not in Europe, and you’ll just stay sad wherever you are. Or, you can be the type of person who focuses on what good things you do have right now, and spend your time in Europe being glad you’re in Europe, and then when you get to the US, then be glad you’re there. And then you’ll spend your time being happy. Which type of person would you rather be?’
I knew which kind of person I wanted to be, and I decided that then.
This past year, I started noticing a trend with my daughter, who is 8. If you asked her what her favorite season was in January, she would say “Winter!” After a couple months then she would answer, “Probably Winter – but also kind of Spring.” Soon the answer was “Spring!” Come July, it was “Summer!” In September, she would answer “Summer and Fall!”, and by November, it was fully “Fall.” I don’t know that she even realized that her answer was changing. She just fully appreciates whatever she is getting to experience at the time. She’s that type of person, and I admire it in her, and I tell her so.
When we hit the middle of winter, though, I struggle to keep that in mind. It doesn’t help that culturally, people here bond by commiserating together about how bad the weather is. And, to tell the truth, it really can be bad – here in Lowell last winter, we broke records for amount of snow, and were at the time the snowiest city in the country. It was blizzard after blizzard. But for some people I know, and in some areas of the world that do a better job embracing the cold, that is exciting, and this winter I want to focus on the positives. Because the fact is, it is going to be the current season whether I like it or not, so I might as well enjoy it!
And after all, in any season there are amazing things that you typically can only find peaking at certain times of the year, and that gives them a delicious feeling of expectancy and exclusivity. Fresh strawberries sliced on a puffed German oven pancake in June. Going apple picking in October. Hanging twinkle lights in December. Fireworks at the baseball park in July. Baking pumpkin pies in November. Juicy red ripe tomatoes in August. The scent of bountiful lilac bushes in May. A day of sledding ending with mugs of hot cocoa in February. And recognizing these things is what I’m calling “The Present-Month Project”.
I often hear people talk about how they want to do a better job of eating seasonally- focusing their cooking on the particular produce that is at peak for that time of year. This is the same concept, just broader than food alone. The idea is that each month I want to come up with things that are unique or particularly enjoyable for that time of year, and take the time to recognize and appreciate them. Not all of them will necessarily be absolutely exclusive to that month, but I do want to really focus on what makes that particular month special, whether foods, activities, holidays, opportunities, or what-not-and-what-have-you.
I want to make this more specifically focused than just by season – I’ve already made illustrated art lists of general seasonal activities, above – and I love them, but those are fairly broad. Because after all, even though both are associated with winter, December is very distinct from February. And September has a very different feel than November, even though both have autumn. The Present-Month Project is about finding the particular tone of the present time of each month.
This project is not only about months that are perhaps not as popular, either, because even in months I just naturally enjoy, sometimes opportunities fly by and I suddenly realize I’ve missed it for the whole year (I always miss pick-your-own strawberry season, for instance!).
Also, it can be easy to mentally skip past special and wonderful times of year, in the hurry to get to something else down the road. For instance, how Christmas season often starts the day after Halloween. There’s still a lot of fall (and Thanksgiving!) to be enjoyed before winter begins, and it often gets missed or overshadowed — and in the meantime we hype up all the winter-cheer, but then Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over in just the first two weeks of winter and the whole freezing remainder lies ahead, with the festive side of “winter” having passed while it was actually still autumn. That’s just a weird set up, to me personally. We do only a little for Christmas, and just use it as a spring-board into the winter season, and have our big winter holiday (WinterFest) at the end of January. I know that very non-typical, though! While not all my monthly focuses will be so different from the norm, I still do want to be aware, as I go through the year, and as I go through my life, that I’m not neglecting to see current blessings in my hurry to move on to something else I want.
I think this will be a fun way to really take advantage of each month for myself and for my family. Plus, with a list in mind of all the happy things about each month, that will be an easy way to combat the list of complaints that can sometimes pile up at certain times of year. *cough cough* winter *cough cough* I’ll be planning to share each month’s post here on my blog. January’s is in the works, I want to get it up soon before too much of the month is gone!
I’m really glad I live in a world where God made seasons. All four of them.
(But I still totally reserve the right to have fall as my favorite.)
What is your favorite season, or some of your favorite seasonal things to do? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!