This week began with a surprise as we started the season early with an even four inches of snowfall covering the ground. I can’t explain why I was surprised, but I was excited, all the same. The end of the year is less than three weeks away and I have been making some changes in my life. My theory is that an early start will keep the momentum going as we enter the new year. The next few months here will be trying for most. We are quickly approaching less than 9 hours of daylight and gray skies for a week straight. I will be giddy with excitement as the ground is covered in a layer of white powder. Not everyone has awe and wonder inside of them. To be fair, my life adjustments have been hard on me and my childlike attitude has waned slightly. I am saved by the Christmas decorations all around me. Not unlike muted colors of winter, the decorations are subtle. The moods of those around me have an optimistic joy that breaks through the cold weather. The down-to-earth attitude seems to be baked into the culture in this part of the state. A fair distance from the rush of Chicago or the sound-wave of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, my town is protected from the larger commercial rush of this season. Acres of farmland, quite recently filled with corn, lies dormant with snow creating a “clean slate”.
I truly believe that visual reminder of a fresh start resonates with most of us. Again, I am not the first or last person to discover this. My time in the North has shown me what the four seasons are and how the earth (the actual soil or dirt) has to adapt to the powerful forces. It reminds me of my dad describing how some of his high school students had not seen the ocean. The massive size reminds you how small you are. We need to remember this important fact. We are part of this planet. While I cannot see the ocean of water like I once did, oceans of corn and soy beans covered the land during Spring and Summer. There are parts of the interstate highway where the fields go all the way to the horizon. Miles of farmland feeding the country. I feel like I have been handed a gift to experience the wonders of this “new” world.
This gratitude of my clam surroundings has let me be less rigid about the use of Christmas music around me before the religious season even starts. For the past several years of my life, I was always fighting it and getting mad. I would feel the rush of finishing Christmas cards “on-time” and then not finish them. I was upset with the whole mindset of buying a million presents, cover every square inch of your home or office with tinsel. Force everyone to exchange gifts that no one keeps for long. Go to a church service to avoid feeling guilty (This one really gets me as I have been really trying to find a church I like for a long time).
Part of my life changes include taking it slower during my day. I have been eliminating most of the social media presence I had created over the past two or three years. I have been reading more books. There are novels that keep my heart warm and self-improvement books that keep my motivated. I have been writing more poetry and easily writing these blog posts. I hope to write more handwritten letters to close friends in other parts of the country. I plan to spend more time making new friends here in my small town. The darkness of the evening could easily be discouraging. The people around me without a Faith will be seriously saddened and bide their time until Spring. I’m just happy to be here in this place of winter delights.
The snow and ice all around us are simple reminders that nothing is quite secure. We will slip and slide around until we can recover. We wear protective clothing to keep us warm and boots to keep our step steady. We drive slower. (Well, most of us…) We reflect on what was and what is to come. Will you let the first quarter of the year be ruled by cloudy days and early nights? Will you discover something new about the world or perhaps yourself? What type of person do you want to be in the new year?