Winter holidays to perk you up

Winter is here in full force, that's for sure. Here in Colorado, we have heaps of snow after the big storm that swept through the week of Christmas. Cold and snow are inevitable in the Rocky Mountains, but without it, we wouldn't have the needed water for irrigation and recreation in the warmer months.

With Christmas and New Year's behind us, we are all faced with cold wintry days and long dark nights in which most of us stay cooped up inside for weeks. It can be depressing, so it's important to get excited about life and create special days of cheer.

Some of us enjoy the national football games, or basketball or hockey ... armchair sports, for sure, but following a favorite team or two keeps you involved and elated when they win (or disgusted when they don't). It all culminates in Super Bowl Sunday, which is usually early in February.

Ground Hog Day, Feb. 2nd, is celebrated in our family for a couple of reasons ... it happens to be my daughter-in-law's birthday (Happy Birthday, Woohye!) ... and it also happens to be the mid-point of winter. I'll never forget the first Ground Hog Day that Doug and I spent together, in 2010. He invited me over to his house for a party to celebrate Ground Hog Day, and at the time I thought, Really? Why should anyone celebrate the Ground Hog, an animal also known as a marmot and considered a rodent?

But I had so much fun. When he told me we were celebrating the fact that it was the turning point of winter, with spring just six weeks ahead, it cheered me up. We put on rock music, danced on the bricks, had a little wine ... and I hadn't had that much fun since I was a teenager. So now, I treat Ground Hog Day with respect and am glad I now have a family member who was born on that day.

(As a side note, the YA novel I am now writing is called "The Ground Hog Mystery" and will be sixth in the Annette Vetter adventure series.)

Then there is Valentine's Day, celebrated on Feb. 14, which has been commercialized to the point of anguish, but the special day celebrating LOVE (in all its forms) is one I cherish year after year. The world can certainly use a big heaping tablespoon of love right now. If you're alone without a partner, you can treat yourself on Valentine's Day, or extend a small gesture of kindness to someone who could use a dose of it. The best thing we can do on Valentine's Day is send out Love to the Universe, especially to those we don't really like very much (a few political figures come to my mind ...). Instead of dissing them, which is always easy to do ... why not, for just a minute or two, put yourself in their shoes and pretend they actually have feelings like you? Feel some compassion, and then notice how that calms you for some strange reason. I've always believed "Love is the Answer," but like everyone else, I don't always walk and talk.

St. Patrick's Day is another winter holiday people celebrate, whether you have Irish blood or not. My ancestors were German and English immigrants, but I've always appreciated the color green, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers. Some of Doug's ancestors were Irish, so we observe St. Patty's Day in our house. Even if you don't have any Irish blood, it's good to have one more winter holiday to see us through until March 20, the Spring Equinox -- and that will be a day to celebrate in 2016!

#winter #holidays #groundhog #valentines #StPatricksDay

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