The December days can be short and dreary with long, dark winter nights in Canada. The sun starts to rise around 7:30 am but isn’t fully up over the houses and horizon until the morning routine is coming to an end. The sun sets before the day’s work is complete and Pepper and I are able to admire the Christmas lights on our after-work walks. Though it doesn’t rain much anymore, or snow quite yet, this time of year, bright and sunny days are rare. It can be easy to feel as dismal as the weather as your world get colder and darker everyday. It takes a battle plan to stay positive in the weeks around the solstice. Here’s a list of some of the things I find really help me to stay happy in the face of gloom:
- Stay active and keep a fitness routine. Resist the urge to hibernate every night.
- Get out and into nature during the daylight when you can. For me, that’s on the weekends.
- Embrace the dark! Put up Christmas lights and find some candles you love.
- Spend the long evenings cooking healthy comfort foods, set the table and enjoy dinner by candlelight.
- Load up on the seasonal fruit and vegetables that are best at this time of year, like clementines, pomegranate and Brussels’ sprouts.
- Go for a walk around the neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights. Come home, turn up the heat, turn up the humidifier and get cozy in your pajamas with some eggnog or hot chocolate.
- Hibernate some days. Surround yourself with your favourite snacks, a cup of tea, fuzzy blankets, and watch your favourite movies.
- Save the alcohol for the holiday parties you’ll be attending every weekend and don’t drink much, or at all, on the other days. Stay well hydrated.
- Stick to a moisturizing skincare routine.
- Go to bed on time. Don’t let midnight sneak up on you when the evenings stretch on forever.
- Buy or knit yourself warm things to wear outside.
- Care for some houseplants to have something green and thriving in your immediate surroundings.
- Find ways to entertain yourself at night that don’t involve looking at a screen. Read, bake, practice a hobby or listen to music, instead.
- Stay social and connected to friends and family, even if you can’t be with them in person.
- Make goals for the new year and next season.
Most of these tactics come down to just taking time to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, socially and emotionally, whatever that means for you, and staying connected to nature and trying to sync to it’s cyclical rhythms, even when they are resonating at low levels. This season doesn’t last forever.
All photos by me.
There is something special about waking up in the forest. Everything is so quiet, calm and cozy from inside the cottage. The soft and hazy morning light filtered through the tall white pines and shining warmly through the old windows is what wakes you in the morning. I love walking the winding and sometimes steep paths surrounding the small cottage my husband’s great grandparents built in the early morning. The lake is still and clear. The air is humid as the first light of day lifts the evening rain from the forest floor. As you turn away from the lake and the cottage to walk up the path that weaves between the boulders you notice that the heavy roar of waves and wind from the day before have been replaced by the ethereal sounds of long ago fallen rain dripping from the leaves, squirrels chewing eagerly upon acorns, and the occasional steady beat of a woodpecker.
The mornings in central Ontario can be a little chilly, even in August, but if you are lucky (and it isn’t your turn to make the morning meal), you return to a cottage with friends and family emerging from their feather down cocoons, the building warming up from tea brewing and breakfast on the go.
Blanket a gift
The best part: I don’t have to walk alone anymore.
All photos by me.
These are my favourite pajamas of all time. The only others that come close are the polka dot nighties my mom made for me when I was a kid – she had to make a second one when I grew out of the first one – that were nearly identical to this adult version. They are light, elegant and modest enough to wear when travelling with friends of the opposite gender. And the best part is, I got them on sale for only $8! Of course I knew I had to pack them for a girl’s week in Panama with my mom to celebrate her 50th birthday.
It was my second ever airplane trip and my first since the year 2000. I was clueless when it came to packing my carry-on bag and the contents read like a list of my favourite things:
- snacks for the plane (beef jerky and blueberry Greek yogurt granola bars)
- one DSLR camera (Nikon D5100)
- one waterproof disposable camera (Fujifilm QuickSnap Waterproof)
- two books (Philip Hoare’s The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea and Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women)
- one pair of sunglasses
- two pairs of pajamas (including these)
- one blouse
I would have been in a whole lot of trouble if the airline had lost my suitcase, but I would have saved my most cherished possessions from a life in The Land of Lost Luggage.
Pajamas ModCloth (old)
Velcro Rollers Shoppers Drug Mart (Pink & Blue)
All photos by me.