Winter brings slower pace

Season allows for reflection, setting thoughtful goals

ELKINS — Most people will agree that once the Christmas and New Year celebrations pass, things get comparatively calmer. To add to this feeling, we usually face some vicious snowstorms that limit what we can actually travel and do. I have always identified this time of year as a “primitive” time when the elements of wind and cold dominate our lives and activity is lessened to accomplishing only the basics.

“Primitives” have become a popular shopping item for many. Upon entering an establishment featuring this merchandise, the patron will view some plain and simple items displayed on the shelves. Elkins’ Camden Creek Primitives-N-More and Beverly’s Bobbie’s Sleepy Sheep Primitives both welcomed me to take photos of their stock for this article.

Candles and crafted silk greenery may serve as accents to the rough-hewn furniture and assorted Amish wares. These everyday essentials remind us of many of the things we take for granted, but are needed elements in every home. Light, warmth, beauty and usefulness are part of our everyday life. In the world of primitives, these household staples are just more plain.

They set a stage for the next few weeks of our lives, which force us to remain in our homes and focus on what happens there. Many concentrate on building a fire in an available fireplace or woodstove. Some spend more time in the kitchen cooking vegetables for fine soups. Others try to have hot chocolate available for the end of their children’s sled rides or sit-a-spell sipping hot tea and pen cards to distant relatives or friends who need a boost.

Throughout the year, we might not consider spending so much time doing ordinary things. We donate hours watching television, fulfilling all of our work responsibilities or volunteering time to good causes, but this slower pace can afford us some moments to discern what is most important in our lives. It allows us to look at our “comfort zones” and consider if we are extending our time and talents in the best directions.

Are there things we could change and be more true to our calling? Are there tasks we have neglected that need our attention? What are some projects we have set aside that we really should bring to a close? These are all important questions we have time to consider in this slower-paced lifestyle.

With snowstorms and cold temperatures, we really face an opportunity to rid our lives of things that are not enhancing or a quality we desire. So, instead of just watching the flakes fall from the sky, let us busy ourselves to get some important things resolved and concluded.

The “winter to-do lists” are the most fun, because if a delay appears, one usually has a few spare days to recover and get back on schedule. Our new boundaries allow us to give our attentions to some of the more time-consuming tasks that require more tenacity and trouble. And, so what if we get frustrated with a job we have chosen to do. Grab that favorite woolen blanket and wrap up for a long winter’s nap.

Emily Dickinson, a famous author who spent a great deal of time alone, once explained, “Forever is composed of nows.” As we begin another year, let us make good use of our quieter and empty moments and prepare to fill that new calendar we have placed on the wall with some meaningful living. Because we can start anew is to know that someone’s plan included a way for us to try something different and improve upon the past. This annual adjustment always ensures that next year can be a better one.

For starters, try keeping things simpler. Rid yourself of clutter that is not necessary. Understand, one cannot do everything alone. Remaining in touch with family and friends is always a good thing. Determine some goals you really want to fulfill and, as they say, “Have at it!”

Use those skills and talents you have been blessed with and add flavors to life not unlike Christmas’ homemade nog and pecan pie. Find some ways to keep Christmas alive throughout 2018! Watch the world from your window and determine how it will improve next year because of something you are able to accomplish. In the words of former President John F. Kennedy, “You can make a difference and everyone should try.” Dreaming and decision-making are the promises of these thoughtful times.

— Shannon Bennett Campbell is a longtime contributing writer and columnist for The Inter-Mountain. The West Virginia Press Association selected her as its 2016 first-place Division II Lifestyles Columnist winner.