I absolutely, positively cannot stand being cold. I don’t like that it’s dark so late in the morning and so early at night. I don’t enjoy feeling stuck inside, or the day after day of gray skies. I don’t like enduring the first half-mile of my run before I finally warm up, nor do I like running on uneven, icy terrain.
My skin is so dry one might think that I have reptilian ancestors. My hair is dark, my face is pale and my nose is perpetually running.
The fact that the winter months drag on and on doesn’t help either. It is my opinion that summer is far too short and winter is far too long.
But I live in Michigan and winter comes whether I like it or not. So, to get through it, first of all, I do not shy away from bundling up. Not quite as much as the kid in “A Christmas Story” or Wayne Fontes when he coached the Lions, but probably pretty close.
Secondly, I force myself to get out and get some fresh air by running no matter how bad the footing or the weather. Some days, this is not easy, but that’s when having a dog who can’t wait to get out there comes in handy.
And while my kids are too old for me to necessarily go out and play with them anymore, I do love to go cross-country skiing and especially sledding together — not as much as going to the beach; that would be crazy talk. But I do really enjoy it nonetheless.
Also, it’s hockey season — and while I’m not a big fan of winter, I am a big fan of hockey. And, of course, who could deny the breathtaking sight of a fresh blanket of white with the new fallen snow stuck to the trees? I have to admit, it’s pretty darn beautiful.
I find that if I focus on all of these positives instead of dwelling on the fact that I’m freezing, it carries me through until at least February. It is at this time, however, that I must dig deep and conjure up childhood memories to get me through the last stretch.
There are two memories I have in particular that I call upon. One is of my cousin who lived in Florida for a while. I remember visiting just before the holidays and the two of us cutting out paper snowflakes to hang in her room so that it would feel more like Christmas. For one fleeting moment, I actually felt kind of sorry for her having to live in such a paradise.
The other memory is of my Uncle Eddie, who is a native Hawaiian. When I was really little, he came to Michigan, visiting our house in late November/early December. It started to snow and my uncle immediately and excitedly went outside in just a T-shirt. Holding his head up to the sky with a broad smile on his face, he let the snowflakes fall on his bare skin for what seemed to me a really long time.
I thought he had gone nuts. And then someone told me that he had never seen snow before. I remember being absolutely astounded by such a thought.
When I’m barely holding on toward the end of winter, and I am desperately craving sunlight and warmth, and the snow’s pristine beauty turns dirty instead, it is these memories that remind me that, no matter how much I dislike winter, I can’t imagine not having it at all. I can’t imagine not experiencing all of the seasons. It would be something I would truly miss.
So, bring on the snow. Let us have a white Christmas and beyond. And maybe I’ll see you at the sled hill. I’ll be the one with the runny nose; smelling of extra-strength moisturizing lotion; and really, really bundled up. But I will also be the one holding my head to the sky, smiling broadly as snowflakes fall on the bare skin of my pale face.
Mele Kalikimaka, Uncle Eddie. And happy winter everyone.
— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist