One of my greatest pleasures as a mother is reading with my children. We read a book entitled Summer by Alice Low. It is a lovely rhyming antic about watermelons, swings, bike rides and how “we like the things that summer brings.”
I instinctively wondered why the author had not proceeded to write a sequel about winter. And then it was clear. That book would be too bleak and dreary. The pages would be filled with descriptions of heavy coats and boots; bare trees and murky views; shovels and salt; flu and antibiotics; pot holes and flat tires; high heating bills and the end of daylight saving time.
But surely, winter cannot be devoid of any virtues. For one, frigid temperatures greatly reduce the number of harmful insects which carry around diseases, as well as invasive organisms which eat away at trees. Also, there are some studies that suggest there may be a link between cold weather and longevity. Further, only through lack can we learn to be grateful for our blessings. Wow, the list is awfully curt and proof that winter is unquestionably a significant inconvenience.
Still, whenever one door closes a window is opened, and fortunately we are always afforded a silver lining. If you are Persian like me, you know winter is the perfect time to enjoy aush. If you are not Persian, I am referring to a series of delicious extra-hearty soups that you must try. Winter also provides us with a wonderful opportunity to help others in need. There are scores of beautiful organizations, including Toys for Tots, City Harvest and the New York Cares coat drive, which step up collection of donations at this time of year. Moreover, what better time of year to thank our mailmen and sanitation crews who trudge through rain, sleet and snow to service the needs of our communities. When, if not now, would we feel appreciation toward our children’s bus drivers and teachers, who rise early to greet our children. It is the time to give with an open heart—or give early and with a smile. With a sincere “thank you,” even a modest sum will be appreciated, provided it’s given before time mounts into rising expectations. I promise this wasn’t an advertisement, but rather a pep talk for my own stingy nature in this season of tipping.
By far, the very best part of winter is the holidays. Personally, I feel very blessed and cheered that the Jewish holiday of lights, Hanukkah, comes in the winter. Hanukkah is rich with warm, greasy comfort food, sweets and treats, wholesome games to play with our children, colorful candles to spread warmth and hope and, most importantly, stories of true courage. The memory of the triumph of the Jewish underdog, in defiance of alien philosophies devised to make us forget our heritage, is food for our weary souls.
Wishing you all a warm winter, happy holidays and miracles when you need them!