'Tis the season for?
December 31, 2011 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Give me some ideas for "wintery" activities/projects/etc. to follow through on my resolution to live in and celebrate the present by doing seasonal things on a regular basis.

I really enjoy the Christmas season, and during my December Health Month game, I set a rule for myself to do something Christmasy several times a week. It was pretty easy to build a list of Christmasy things to do--ranging from more significant time commitments like going to a holiday concert to short and sweet activities like Tivo'ing and watching holiday classics like The Grinch and Rudolf.

I really loved this rule, and I realized that it was not just because I love Christmas, but because it allowed me to be in touch with and celebrate the particular time of year. I decided to replicate that rule for the coming months by committing to doing something seasonal a couple times a week, as a way to stay grounded in and appreciate the present.

For now, I'd like your help in some outside-the-box ideas for things I can do over the next couple of months that are in tune with the time of year--whether weather-related, or tied to upcoming holidays, or whatever. Activities can include things like movies to watch/music to listen to, foods to make, little home decorating touches to make the house feel seasonal, etc. I live in the urban mid-Atlantic, and so while snow will make its appearance some time or other, and snow-related activities are obvious choices, I can't count on it on any given day.

Bonus points for things that help put you in the spirit of the season without requiring a huge time commitment.
posted by drlith to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I was all set to suggest cross-country skiing. Even here in Chicago, I'm wondering if I'll get the chance this winter. :-( I'll still go with the idea, just in case you do get some snow: Some forest preserves around here rent cross-country skis and have some nicely-groomed beginner trails. I am FAR from an expert - I usually have to spend the first hour every year relearning how to get up without limbs splaying in all directions - but damn if this isn't one of the best activities to get you in touch with winter. You can go at your own pace (so it doesn't have to be a workout if you don't want it to be), the snow makes everything quiet and other-worldly, you can see things you can't see in the summer when there are too many leaves, you can enjoy it with friends or alone, and then afterwards, you can have hot chocolate and take a nap - two of the other best things you can do in winter!

Speaking of, how about making really really good hot chocolate? Find a great recipe online, or experiment on your own, or make it like your mom/dad/grandma used to make it back in the days before instant packets (if that applies).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

If I still lived where you live, I would go hiking in Rock Creek Park and ice skating in downtown Silver Spring. MLK day is in January, so you can visit the new memorial (AFI is also doing a King thing). /homesick/

January is all about keeping and failing to keep resolutions, too, so joining a gym and not going would be seasonally appropriate ... although it would probably be better to have a small-ish resolution that you will keep. I am resolving to wear lipstick every day and use lotion after showering. They're small things but good daily reminders that I need to take care of myself (the lotion thing is seasonally appropriate too, since the air is so dry this time of year).

I like your idea & just might try it myself.
posted by headnsouth at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2011

I know you said you may not gt snow, but just in case -- if you live near a zoo that has some arctic or far-northerly animals, visit the zoo sometime during or after a snowfall to watch them.

There are Christmas songs on there, but Sting's album "If On A Winter's Night" is also -- by design -- about winter as well.

Seconding hot chocolate. Or find a bar that has a fireplace and get something else warm and hang out by it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:45 AM on December 31, 2011

* Bake
* Fancy hot chocolate
* Hot alcoholic drinks
* Soups and stews

* Knit
* Sleigh ride
* Stay in bed

* Declutter; clean out your closet
* Follow the Iditarod
* Every day, look up the date on Wikipedia
* Read about Arctic cultures, explorers, science
* Read work by Jack London
* Turn down the heat and wear sweaters
* Watch "North to Alaska"
* Watch winter sports

* Fires (if you don't have a fireplace, you can get a simulated one through TV or your computer)
* Stock up your car, pantry, etc., to be prepared to be snowed in and for other emergencies
posted by maurreen at 7:59 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bake: bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls. Bring some with you when visiting friends, or have friends over to help you eat what you've made.

Warm up your clothing. I have wood heat, and it's a small luxury when I remember to hang my clothing near the stove in advance, so I can dress in toasty togs.

Organize your winter wear, if you haven't already. It's no fun to wake up to snow and then spend two hours looking for the necessary gear to enjoy it. (Setting aside unwanted peices for donation, that others may keep warm.)

Maybe go to your local craft store and see whether they're offering one-off classes in candy-making, in preparation for Valentine's Day?

What headnsouth said about protecting yourself from the elements: moisturizer and lip coverage.

I have a jones for textiles in the winter (rug hooking in particular), and would love to get together with friends on a cold afternoon so we can sit around and knit/hook/crochet and hang out. There's something reassuring about creating something when everything outside is so desolate and bare.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:10 AM on December 31, 2011

Something I remember doing with my dad years ago: if and when it snows, take a cheap microscope/magnifying glass outside and look at snow flakes. You need to prechill the surface you use to look at the snowflakes and the snow needs to be the right flaky kind.

For reference, find a copy of the photos of snow by Snowflake Bentley. And if you want to get more in depth, you could take pictures.

Cake style gingerbread with home made whipped cream is pretty awesome.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:16 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another place to go skating is the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden ice rink; this is a winter tradition for a lot of my friends. Winter activity in my husband's family is an ongoing jigsaw puzzle. Knitting is traditional as well; if you don't know how to knit you can learn.
posted by gudrun at 9:55 AM on December 31, 2011

Taking photos always gets me outdoors and keeps me focused on the present. Winter is especially beautiful in this regard. I also do more cooking in the winter--pots of soup to freeze for the rest of the year or I'll bake bread--things I'd never consider doing when it's warm outside. Simmering a pot of water with cinnamon sticks and a few cloves or boiling down some cranberries makes the kitchen smell just like winter to me.
posted by marimeko at 10:09 AM on December 31, 2011

I've recommended this book a jillion times and it can veer a little Oprah/Martha, but Simple Abundance is chock-full of these sorts of suggestions, with a few gems of wisdom thrown in.
posted by cyndigo at 11:44 AM on December 31, 2011

When there is a heavy or vigorous snow (not always the same thing) coming down, be sure to turn the lights off inside and listen to "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"!
posted by jgirl at 12:15 PM on December 31, 2011

These are probably seasonally specific only to my childhood, but my mother always set me up with watercolors on rainy days, and she always, always, always made popcorn and hot chocolate for my best friend and me on the first real day of snow when we were not in school. We always called snow popcorn and popcorn snow after that. My elementary school was called Lincoln, and every year on his birthday we made pancakes. I still have the recipe we used and often make them--and write to the handful of people I still know from grade school about it on his birthday.

I also love to do something to celebrate MLK day every year, whether it's listening to or rereading one of his speeches (when I lived in Wyoming, where nothing was observed officially) or attending some local event (as I do now that I'm back in a college town).

You could also invent some kind of a celebration around the birthdays of anyone else you admire born in the next few months. My mother for years had a party honoring the birth of Emil Kraeplin, the founder of biological psychiatry (she's a psychiatrist, and she wanted to do something fun in mid-February).
posted by newrambler at 2:06 PM on December 31, 2011

Celebrate Imbolc. Searching the web for Imbolc or Imbolg should give you some ideas.
posted by rjs at 1:42 AM on January 1, 2012

I'm a little late to answer, but what about just using an electric blanket in your favorite chair, or using a hot water bottle every night at bedtime? Winter can be about reveling in the pleasure of the simple comfort of warmth.
posted by shortyJBot at 8:36 AM on January 1, 2012

I would find a walking route that you really like, then keep walking it through the months with an eye to seeing the changes. It wouldn't be that interesting this time of year, but as a long term project, it would be the most direct way to keep in touch with how the seasons are changing.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:15 AM on January 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you artistic at all? Mrs. mmascolino hand makes all the greeting cards that we send out all year and the Christmas cards are always chock-a-block with wintery icons. Think water color paintings of snowy evergreens or snowmen cut out of wrapping paper etc.
posted by mmascolino at 6:39 PM on January 1, 2012

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