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Cold months have their own gifts, you need to embrace them

Columnist Emily Carson says winter is for everyone and there’s not a singular, perfect way to experience it.

Holy Everything — Emily Carson column sig
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Winter has its charms. It has taken more than a decade of living in Minnesota to appreciate and look forward (ever-so-slightly) to this season.

With each year that passes, I’m coming to more deeply understand the affection that so many people express for this time of year. It turns out they aren’t just pretending to like the cold because they need to justify living here. For a lot of folks, winter is truly wonderful.

Usually, in the coldest months, I discontinue my daily outdoor walk routine and shift inside, but this year it’s almost like there’s a magnet pulling me out the door each day.

We’ve had a fair number of sub-zero mornings, and I’ve finally come to practice the advice I’ve been getting since childhood: wear the right gear, and you can be comfortably outside at nearly any temperature.

In speaking to my husband, Justin, about my very newfound sense of winter’s irresistible appeal, he told me about the Dutch concept of “uitwaaien”(out-vie-n). It refers to the Danish practice of going out in windy weather to find refreshment and clarity of thought.

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My first inclination upon hearing a weather report highlighting blustery “wind chill” temperatures is generally to avoid going outside altogether. Intentionally bundling up in order to step into winter’s winds? How novel — and invigorating.

On a recent stroll, I was walking on a sidewalk parallel to Judd Hill. It is a prime Rochester spot for sledding. As I walked by, I saw two youngsters on an inflatable sled gliding down the hill. The little boy was wearing a puffy, blue coat and a bright aqua hat. He yelled out to the little girl beside him, “I’m not scared! I’m a brave knight.”

I’d like an injection of his winter courage!

Perhaps a lot of our collective animosity toward the colder months stems from false assumptions. We assume we know exactly what it’s going to feel like outside, so we avoid it. We presume all the most enjoyable activities happen in warmer weather, so we hesitate to experiment with winter pursuits.

If we step back from all our assumptions about this season, maybe we’ll find ourselves pleasantly surprised.

Winter is, afterall, for everyone, and there’s not a singular, perfect way to experience it.

Regardless of whether outdoor walks are feasible for you, there are other ways to embrace the refreshment of the winter months. Find a spot to watch a sunrise or sunset. Get a birdfeeder and watch avian activity. Bundle up and take your morning cuppa outside for a few sips.

The coldest months of the year are upon us, so we may as well be open to the gifts they offer.

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If you notice a strong breeze, turn into it like the brave knight of Judd Hill. Let the crisp, flowing air be, if only for a moment, a gift of seasonal refreshment.

"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com .

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