By Rachel Hoeing

I have caught myself lately saying “This time of year I love this, and this time of year of love that!” Autumn turning to winter can be such a beautiful time!  It is easy to get caught up in the stress and anxiety of holidays, but if we take a moment to “stop and smell the snow,” we realize how many things we have to be thankful for and also realize that the little things often don’t matter much. I want to share some of my wintery favorite things and hope you will share yours as well.

This time of year I love to drive at night. Since it gets dark early, I feel like the world quiets down just a tad bit sooner. I love to look at all the Christmas Lights and enjoy getting that glimpse of a Christmas Tree peeking out from someone’s window.

This time of year I love how easy it is to get little children to calm down and/or stop fighting. All you have to do is remind them that Santa is watching or the Elf on the Shelf is watching, and things quickly take a turn for the better.

This time of year I love all the events in the Triad! Every weekend there are plays, shows, lights, and more. We are never at a loss for traditional holiday fun. Some of our favorites are the Nutcracker, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights, the Grensboro Holiday Market, and visiting Santa.

More than anything, I love that particular morning when I open the door and smell winter. That deep, cold, chill-in-the air smell. Maybe that night before it even snowed!

I love how at this time of year I suddenly enjoy cooking. Something about the cold weather makes me want to whip up some comfort food. The crock pot becomes my best friend, and I am constantly thinking of reasons to throw a party or host a dinner.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is stop by my church when no one else is there. I love the smell of the old wood and the stillness of the church. I love to light a candle in honor of a loved one, sit in the pew, and just marvel at the church’s beauty. It is always decorated exquisitely for Christmas.

Not that it is any different from any other time of year, but I love to shop. When I hear the words “Open House” or “Sale,” there is no resisting it. I must go. I must buy something. I must find a bargain. I must add one more person to my gift list so I can buy this sale item!

As much as I loathe cold weather, I love this time of year because we build fires at night, and we get extra blankets on the bed. I love the fact that everyone else in the car is gagging because they are so hot and I have the heat pumping and staying toasty warm. And long, hot showers make me so happy, too!

You thought I was going to put a photo of myself in the shower, didn’t you? Oh, you won’t be that lucky today. 🙂

I love the first snow of the year. I love when it lands on the kids’ noses and hair and takes a while to melt. I love how they want to jump out of their skin to get outside and play. I especially love the first snow when it comes on a weekend and we don’t have to worry about a snow make-up day at the end of the school year!

This time of year I love family. With everyone’s faults and nuances, a holiday is just not a holiday to me if we don’t have cousins running around and a room full of family where you know they all love you no matter what and no one has to put on a show for anyone.

Last but not least, I just love the quintessential feel of Christmas. Even though there is much hustle and bustle, and some people seem to quickly forget the real meaning of Christmas, you can spot the true beauty of it if you look closely. You’ll see people waving others in line ahead of them in traffic. You’ll see shoppers with lists of items to buy for the less fortunate. You’ll see manger scenes and children in awe as they stare. You’ll see families hard at work as they prepare that perfect meal or gift for someone they love.

Season’s Greetings, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas and Happy Winter to all!