Mid-Winter Slump

After the holidays when you're exhausted from celebrating, and the winter winds howl at your windows with sleet pelting your roof, time slows. The credit card bills arrive. You scratch your head and wonder at your free-handed spending. The bath scales glare and report the extra pounds now clinging firmly to your thighs. The mid-winter slump has fallen upon you.

But when your spirit starts to plummet, consider the season as a gift from God, a time to recover, reflect, and prepare for the next season. Begin by pondering on things present only in winter. Study the majestic trees stripped of their leaves, their distinct forms revealed. Look at how their limbs twist into funny angles. Watch how the sun slants across them in winter at a much lower angle causing the bark at the top to appear several shades lighter. Focus on an isolated leaf, brown and withered, fluttering in the biting cold. It's a solitary flag, hanging on to its claim.

When you feel you can't stand another day of the snow keeping the kids home from school, bundle up. Plunge into the mounds of white fluff right alongside them. Listen as their delightful squeals, caught by the wind, suddenly create a winter playground full of warmth. Enthralled, unaware of their reddened noses and chattering teeth, little arms and legs design unique snow angels. The children's boundless energy is contagious. Feed off it. Click pictures and save memories.

When frigid temperatures make stepping outside miserable, even dangerous, touch an icy-cold window pane and speak a word of thankfulness for your warm dwelling. Pause there a moment as you reflect on the coming season with grass-cutting, weeding, and pollen-causing allergens. Then yawn and return to your recliner next to the glowing fire. Enjoy a cup of hot tea. Spring can wait. While you're there, take in the comforting smell of a bubbling casserole wafting through the house. Later the toasty warmth of the kitchen will draw the family together around the table.

While you scrape the windshield and hope the tires hug the road securely enough to deliver you to work, take a moment to notice a cardinal perched atop a branch, its feathers brilliant against the drab background. Or peer into the sky at the starlings. Watch and listen as they fly helter-skelter across a steel-gray sky, their formation twisting back and forth in a frenzied dance understood only by them. 

If it seems an eternity between the end of the holidays and the first sun-warmed day of spring, make a point to look for the stop-you-in-your-tracks resplendent sunrises and sunsets. Only in this season will the air be crisp and clear enough to allow more colors of the spectrum to shine through without being scattered. So let your eyes feast on the glided skies that cause your brain to release endorphin for a natural high.

Take in a deep breath of the fresh, clean snow. Laugh as you observe the birds devouring the seeds you set out for them. Look for the greedy one who misses out on eating because he's too busy running off the others. Watch how they band together against their neighbor, the squirrel when he tries to join them.

Soon the winter winds are chased away by warm breezes. The snow melts and suddenly crocuses pop up, fresh and vibrant as though they've been grooming and preparing for this day all winter. Christmas debt comes under control. The pounds gained over the holidays melt away as you push a lawnmower, dig into the earth to plant a garden or resume outdoor sports you love. The earth's production of colors, seemingly brand new every year, brings to an end the quiet months. Your pace will quicken. Your plans will unfold. You'll move into the next season of life, the bitter cold of winter all but forgotten.

For now, give praise to God, being mindful of the good of each season. Allow yourself the gift of winter, a time to rejoice in God's perfect design.