Poor January. It’s a month that doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it. October and November bring us the warm colors of fall and the sweet comfort of friends and family at Thanksgiving. Then December’s Advent preparations culminate in the joy of Christmas Day. While the celebration of Jesus’ birth is a tough act for any month to follow, January doesn’t do itself any favors by announcing its arrival with resolutions of renewed discipline and promises of sleet and freezing rain. It’s no wonder this is the time people start feeling the winter blues.
Before you decide to hibernate until a better month comes along, take heart! Psalm 74:17 says, “[The Lord] made summer and winter,” which includes January. And we all remember that what God makes is good. Ergo January and all the rest of these winter months are good, right? Just in case you aren’t convinced, here are some suggestions to warm you to the idea.
- Get outside! Our Norwegian friends say, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Bundle up in some serious gear and go for a walk. Despite what the adults in your life told you while growing up, you are not going to catch your death of cold. The recycled air in closed environments is the cause for the seasonal increase in cold and flu cases. All of the bacteria, dirt, dander, and other germs in the air get recycled through indoor heating systems. The more time you spend inside, the more you are exposed. Being outside actually develops a stronger autoimmune system and a resistance to allergies in children.
- Make things out of snow. Snowmen, snow angels, snow forts, snowballs, snow cars, etc. Once you have made a snow creation, paint it with spray bottles filled with water and food coloring. Or decorate it with old clothes, buttons, leaves, or scraps. Playing outside in the winter offers a different way of learning that is not available during the rest of the year. Learning how to pack snow tightly to build things, to walk in snow shoes, or to avoid slippery and unsafe objects are all important lessons.
- Make snow food. Have your kids put snow in a bowl and cover it with flavored syrup. There are also many delicious recipes for snow ice cream or maple syrup candy you can find on the Internet. These winter treats are much preferable to the mud pies of summer.
- Enjoy a winter activity such as sledding, ice skating, tobogganing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, or downhill skiing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should get sixty minutes of exercise every day. Larger muscles are able to get more use when children have to walk through snow, and this helps with gross-motor development. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen to protect skin from the sun reflecting off the snow.
- Blow bubbles. When the temperature is ten degrees Fahrenheit or below, catch a bubble with your bubble wand. Watch as its perfectly round surface transforms into a cracked sphere that eventually shatters like glass.
- Play Magic Balloon. Inflate and tie up a balloon, then stick it outside and watch it deflate. Bring it back inside to warm up and watch it reinflate. It’s a lesson in how the air volume of a gas changes with temperature for the older kids, and a fun game called Magic Balloon for the younger ones.
- Go ice skating inside! Use rubber bands to affix sheets of wax paper to children’s socked feet. Be prepared for a few falls as kids become accustomed to their slippery skates.
- Play board games. Sometimes there is no amount of clothing that can make the weather palatable. Or perhaps there isn’t any snow. In either case, gather around the kitchen table and play some games. Better yet, invite some friends or family to join you. Be like the fun-loving church I know that invites everyone over to the fellowship hall for an afternoon to enjoy snacks and their favorite board games.
Although it may not appear particularly inviting on the surface, January’s potential for fun and fellowship is only limited by your imagination. May your eyes be opened to all the good that lies ahead this winter.