Winter isn’t my time to shine. Frankly, my personality is intense enough that layering on an early sunset and colder temperatures does nothing but make me want to sleep a little longer at night, eat soups and stews, stay layered in sweatshirts and long-sleeve tees, and dream of spring and its colors. As I’ve said to friends and family many times over the years — give me foliage or give me mild depression. I mean it partly in a jokey way, but it also cuts straight to the heart of my take on winter.
While I don’t spend much time on Facebook, this week I found myself looking through pictures of my high school in St. Johnsbury, Vermont — students participating in the school’s annual tradition of Winter Carnival. The particular post that I saw included photos of students who were asked to forget their backpacks for the day and carry their books another way. Students were pictured carrying books in a pet carrier, in a Home Depot bucket, in a stroller, on a skateboard, in a kayak (!), etc.
Winter Carnival is a time for camaraderie within grades, competition between grades, and in general aims to boost students’ spirits amidst the wicked chilly ‘n snowy New England winter. Back in my day, I recall us all participating in several types of activities during Winter Carnival — a pancake eating contest bright and early on a Saturday, class skits written (mostly by the theater kids) and performed in front of all the students and teachers, and a snow sculpture contest where we continued working in a somewhat focused way with wet gloves after the sun disappeared. Despite my overall ambivalence toward competition, I really loved Winter Carnival.
The memories of it make me feel warm. And it warms my heart to see students still participating in it in creative new ways. I hope they’re having fun.
And isn’t that part of the point of winter … to find warmth? Sure, warmth in our soft sweaters and such, but also in our fond memories, in our connections with others, and through exercising our playful spirits?
May we all find warmth as we make our way through the rest of winter.