I think that over the past few months I've made my feelings about winter perfectly clear, but now we're well into February and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. This is the time when, every year, I begin shouting "March is Spring!" "March is Spring!" at the top of my lungs. Considering March in Toronto is almost always cold and somewhat snowy nobody ever believes me when I say that spring is right around the corner. I continue to remain optimistic about an early thaw, but we're in the middle of a serious cold snap. I've had to face the reality that, for now, winter is here to stay. So since we've got to live through it here are a few things to love about the coldest time of year.
1. THE CLOTHES
Let's face it. As much as we don't like the cold, everybody has a favourite sweater they look forward to pulling out in the fall. And there are so many styling options with layers and scarves, and blazers, and boots, and hats, and gloves... And with all that cozy, snuggly layering no one will notice if you forget to shave your legs one day.
2. THE ACTIVITIES
There's so much outdoor fun that can only be had in winter, and I feel like I appreciated all the fun things to do in the snow so much more when I was a kid. When was the last time I had a snowball fight or built a snowman? Probably around the last time I owned snow-pants. But, with or without a full winter-suit, I think it's time to get back out there and re-discover the joys of playing in the snow. Who wants to go skating in Nathan Phillips Square? Tobogganing in Christie Pits Park? Or why not go all the way and drive up to Blue Mountain for some skiing? At the very least let's meet in Trinity Bellwoods Park and built a snow-fort!
3. HOT CHOCOLATE
I'm serious. Remember when you were a kid and you'd get a miraculous snow day and play outside for hours? You'd come home and there would be a big pot of hot chocolate with foamy marshmallows on the stove... absolutely delicious and strictly a winter treat. So take advantage of the cold weather and warm up some cocoa to keep you warm. My favourite hot chocolate in the whole city is the Mayan hot chocolate from Soma. It may actually be the most delicious hot beverage of any kind in Toronto. Made with real chocolate and steamed milk with a spicy kick of chilli pepper, it will totally change your life.
A nice hot bubble bath with a glass of wine and a favourite book is just as good as any expensive trip to the spa, but the last thing I want to do on a hot summer day is plunge myself into a steaming tub. Take the chance to unwind and warm up in the bath before the summer weather makes the idea of a hot soak completely unreasonable.
5. EASY, LAST MINUTE RESERVATIONS
Cold weather and snowy nights mean that fewer people are venturing out into the cold to go out and eat. January, February, and March are the slowest time of year at most restaurants which is great news for anyone who wants a last minute reservation at a popular spot. It's also a great time to be spontaneous and head out without a reservation at all. When the weather is bad, chances are you'll be able to get a table anywhere with little to no wait.
6. USING YOUR OVEN
For a lot of people, turning on your oven for long periods of time means heating up your entire house. Great in the winter. Awful in the summer. I know we're all looking forward to dusting off the Bar-B-Q, but in the meantime, why not use that oven? Make roast chicken, roast beef, pot roast, pie... All the things you won't have the chance to eat in the summer when turning on your oven for that long will mean turning your kitchen into a furnace.
7. THE HAIR AND MAKEUP
Winter is great because all the effort I put into my hair and makeup each morning actually lasts throughout the whole day. My makeup doesn't melt off my face the minute I step outside and there's no humidity frizzing up my hair. I don't dread the extra heat near my face from a hairdryer or flatiron and I can cut my bangs without worrying that they'll stick to my forehead.
8. THE TV SHOWS
I didn't have cable TV for years when I was a student and got into the habit of binge watching an entire series on DVD or Netflix. Since connecting the cable again I've rediscovered the fun of following a TV show in real-time, anticipating each week's episode, and gossiping about the latest drama with friends. The good TV shows all air in the winter when it's dark and dreary outside so you don't have to feel guilty about spending an evening with ABC's Thursday lineup instead of heading out and enjoying the summer weather.
9. THE MOVIES
Similarly, all the good movies come out in the winter because they're all scheduled for release right around awards season. If you're not such a fan of sequels and superhero smack-downs this is the time to head to the movie theatre. Plus, it's another great indoor activity that you won't want to do when it's summer and the sun in shining. At the top of my list of movies to see right now are The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.
10. THE AWARD SHOWS
Like I said in #9: It's award season! Even if you don't commit to watching an entire evening of speeches and statues there are always fun tidbits from award shows floating around the internet to brighten your chilly Monday morning. I look forward to watching the host's opening monologue, and there's usually at least one good musical performance to catch on YouTube. My favourite part of awards season is always the red carpet where we can get a peak into all the upcoming trends and start planning our spring shopping!
After writing this post, it's occurred to me that this list is in keeping with my philosophy on appreciating life's Little Joys. I realize these things to love about winter might not be nearly as exciting as a list of things to love about summer. I mean, what's a mug of hot cocoa compared to a day at the beach? But summer will come eventually as it always does.
While we have that to look forward to we may as well embrace the moment we're in, and celebrate the small things that can brighten our day, today.