Winter warmth comes from within…
Winter is a beautiful season for connecting with our loved ones and taking time to acknowledge the wonder of Earth’s cycles. While there may not be blooms of colour, scuttling wildlife, or lazy afternoon picnics to enjoy, there are many meaningful activities to acknowledge the turning of the wheel with your little ones.
If you have a seasonal table or shelf, you’ll be packing away your Autumn items to make way for some winter seedpod fairies, perhaps on a white or palest blue cloth with some favourite candles for lighting in the evenings… Sprigs of evergreens, refreshed often, will bring some life and colour to your home and brighten up the seasonal display as well. As time passes, this seasonal tableau can become an important means of bonding the family with nature, and with each other. Like all celebrations, festivals and rituals, it serves as a conscious recognition of time passing.
Nature walks can still be enjoyed in cooler months, step out in your winter woollies just to enjoy the wonders of the world around you. Children love to be outdoors at any time and winter’s crisp air is reason to run free. Some trees have beautiful winter blossoms. Late in winter new leaves can be seen, waiting for the sunshine to bring warmth and new life. The natural world at night without artificial lights and noise is something few children get to experience. Fire-gazing cuddles are memorable moments, and the wonder of fire is most appreciated on winter nights.
Stories for winter include any version of The Three Bears or a simple telling of The Pot That Would Not Stop from the Brothers Grimm. For the older child, or an interested little one, it is a great time to introduce reading from a chapter book. While you are snuggled together after an early bath, with the aroma of simmering soup to warm you, you can travel with lovable characters through time or around the globe, learning and dreaming and remembering together. Stories are the essence of connecting to our world.
Animals are much less active in winter. A bird feeder is most appreciated by our feathered friends at this time when food is less abundant. Noticing how quiet the animal world is will make spring seem all the more magical with its gift of baby creatures to welcome and observe.
When I think of winter crafts I imagine knitting, felt, more puppets and sewing. Natural fibres are an appropriate medium for this season, and winter provides us with the time to sit quietly and enjoy exploring our creative ideas. Other craft options include candleholders, dried flower creations, little clay animals, wreaths and bird feeders. And if you’re like us and can only dream about snow, cutting snowflakes from paper always impresses children. Hung in the window these create a wintry atmosphere and add a touch to the home decor that says ‘a loved child lives here. The sun is also a relevant theme for winter craft, for the solstice is symbolic of the sun’s birthday - it is after this date that the days begin to lengthen again.
Being indoors lends us more time to be in the kitchen. You could cook porridge, muffins, jacket potatoes, soup, bread, pancakes, latkes; yum – the list goes on! Living in the tropics, we don’t mind a break from mountains of salads and fruit! Cooking with children can be more fun than we first imagine. It took me awhile to relax enough to do it, but seeing the joy it brings them has helped me ignore the floury handprints, sticky taps and excessive washing up.
In the Northern Hemisphere there are observances during winter such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year. Even though our winter occurs mid-year, we can still find reason to celebrate the season and fill the short days and cold nights with festive joy. The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, occurs on 21 June 2021. Leading up to this winter event we can decorate our homes and plan a shared meal with family or friends to reaffirm our ties with each other. Recognising the solstice or the equinox with our family each season can bring back the magic of festivities now lost to commercialism.