I complained a lot about last winter. I really did.
In retrospect, I would take it all back. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been horribly cold for the past few days. The cold bites. It chills me to the bone, and I walk to and from work every day. But I’d take this, any day, over a DC summer. I am elated to not be sweating in front of my air conditioner amidst extreme humidity (for four, arguably five, months). I revel in actually needing my down comforter. And I’m wild about snow.
But for as much as I love and appreciate winter, I’ve never been a huge fan of what we know as the “Christmas spirit.” I grew up in one of those neighborhoods that over-decorates, and is ridden with cars and teenagers selling hot chocolate on the street, with children hanging out of SUV windows in gridlock as they drove by my parents’ minimally decorated ranch-style home. I’m actually not a fan of Christmas decorations, most holiday songs, or shopping. I shudder at the thought of buying a Christmas tree as a young adult, for which my friends call me a Grinch. But the holidays are worth so much more — spending time with the people you care about, and new beginnings. Well, maybe the new beginnings aspect is unique from my perspective, considering it was around the holiday season last year when I began to feel settled in Washington. The holidays are about what cold weather makes us want to do: stay warm, inside, with our friends and family.
While I was in college, my family decided to cut back on the presents aspect of Christmas. For the young kids, it was okay to get gifts upon gifts, but for the adults, it was pointless and just too extravagant. We set a $10 limit on Christmas presents, which basically turned the Gerrity Christmases into giant wine exchanges (fine by me). Even with the little kids, the big presents never seemed to be their favorites; a couple of years ago, I bought my little brother, who is now six years old, a blinking red reindeer nose. It cost me two dollars, and won the prize for best gift overall. Kevin refused to take off the nose for days and days after Christmas, which keeps reminding me that gift-giving isn’t about getting what you want — it’s about finding ways to make the people around you feel loved.
Yesterday, we got a little bit of snow in Washington. Nothing big, just a little dusting. I was in my kitchen, of course, when I noticed it outside — the light pollution in my neighborhood gives the sky a seductive violet glow, and the falling snow just settles itself onto the balcony, the railing, and my bike. With the clothes dryer and the oven going, our window panes fog up along the ceiling. It was just charming.
Since this is just my second winter, I stood in my kitchen and compared it to last winter. And after I baked these snowflake cookies, I watched the snow fall outside my bedroom window as I read a book. I felt at home. Winter is finally here, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.