Yes, I am that annoying person that starts the Christmas carols in mid September. It is a high level of self discipline that keeps me from putting up my tree and decorations before Thanksgiving weekend. Truthfully I’d keep my decorations up year round if it didn’t annoy my friends and family so much.
Christmas has truly always been the most wonderful time of the year for me. I think one of the reasons that I love the winter so much is because of the memories that I associate with it. The cozy blankets, delicious smell of hot chocolate, the tangy taste of sorrel, and of course the delightful sound of festive music playing in the background.
My earliest memories of winter in New York are of times spent with my mother. Luckily for me she is a teacher and always had her winter breaks around the same time that I did. That meant plenty of time bonding, shopping, and walking around 34th St. We visited Macy’s a lot during the holiday time. I always loved to ride those old wooden escalators and later on visiting the McDonald’s on the third floor( I think). That was always a treat.
Then there are the memories of family gatherings, Broadway shows, epic snow days and snow ball fights. I actually remember my dad allowing me by the fire escape for once, to collect snow and make snowballs and store them in the freezer for a snow fight that was later to come. No I cam not making this stuff up.
After Christmas, the cheerfulness of the holidays would carry on into New Years. I have never watched the ball drop in person, but it was just as exciting staying up late and watching it on television. It was always done in the warm comfort of my home which was just fine. With our googly new year glasses on and confetti in place, we began the countdown.
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one …….. Happy New Year!
The residual happiness lasts about what? Maybe a day or two? Then all thats left is the pretty Christmas lights that usually stay up for a week or two. If you’re lucky three. After that its always just been a big pause until Spring rolls around. At least for me.
Now as an adult, winter time isn’t quite the same. I realize someone has to go out and shovel the snow. That someone is me. Also, I can’t just call out of work because Id rather spend the day playing in the snow. I mean, I can, but I am sure that is frowned upon. And don’t get me started on the trauma of discovering that Santa isn’t real.
The emptiness that I feel after the holidays are over is something new. Or maybe I am just now acknowledging it. Maybe it is because I don’t have as much distractions as I did when I was younger. Or maybe this is just my quarter life crisis.
I now spend most of latter winter months in seclusion. Some people might call it seasonal depression, but what ever this feeling is allows me to think and reflect on life. I often go for walks through trails or by lakes and rivers to get a clear head. There is a calmness that comes to me while in the presence of large bodies of water. I close my eyes, take a deep breath in of that crisp winter air and immediately forget all of my troubles.
Without the presence of snow, there is not really much to see.
The barren trees, cloudy skies, and early sunsets leave me without much distractions. There’s an emptiness that washes over me.
There are no bees buzzing. No birds singing. No insects doing whatever it is that they do.
It is nothing but serene silence.
It’s at this time when those thoughts that I push so far back in my mind start to creep forward. I ask myself, what is my purpose? Why am I here? Is this the life that I truly want to live? Will I regret the experiences and opportunities that I let slip by. Will I ever be able to make a difference in the world? And the question that haunts me the most…… Will I ever reach my fullest potential?
I think it is important to process these questions and feelings because it gives a chance for growth and improvement. How can you grow as a person without ever taking the time to reflect on yourself and past actions? Within a few months when Winter is gone and those long bright days with late evening sunsets return, my party face will be back on and it will be another few months before these thought-provoking questions return.
At the end of the day, I do not have all of the answers, if even any. No one does. What I do know is life is short, so I will continue my best to embrace all of these wonderful moments and lessons that life has to offer.