Hello winter, it seems that composing a letter addressed to you may assist in reducing my dislike towards you. – Anita Chaudhuri
It appears that you plan on returning to visit us this year. I want to clarify that, according to research, writing a “dear winter” letter expressing my emotions towards you could potentially make me feel less unhappy during this time of year. However, I want to make it known that I did not extend an invitation for your visit.
I apologize, but I believe that besides heat pump marketers and pantomime performers, not many others are excited about your arrival. The reason being, during winter, around 2 million people in the UK suffer from seasonal affective disorder – and you are to blame for it.
During my childhood in Scotland, I did not have any issues with you. I have fond memories of feeling exhilarated and thrilled at the idea of frozen lakes, blizzards, and the possibility of school being cancelled. This was made even more special by my father, who grew up in Calcutta (now called Kolkata), never experiencing snow until he was 25. He was always amazed by every new snowfall.
However, things have changed since then. Nowadays, I anticipate your arrival every year with the scent of bonfire smoke and cinnamon-spiced apples, creating a cozy feeling of optimism.
“I try to console myself by saying that winter isn’t too bad. I can now indulge in cozy flannel pajamas, hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, and binge-watch three seasons of Lupin (because there’s nothing more comforting than scaring yourself with a foreign crime thriller on a cold winter night). I get distracted by fancy Advent calendars filled with gourmet cheese and artisanal gin, and I begin to think they are my friends. But then, all of a sudden, it’s January.”
Gaze upon the genuine depths of your inner being – somber, grinch-esque, persistent, with an added serving of remorse, financial obligations, and self-evaluation tax documents. And you still have one more surprise in store, don’t you, winter? Each year, I hope: if I can only make it to the end of January, spring will arrive. Yet, like an ultra-endurance athlete, you possess the endurance to match the freezing darkness until the conclusion of March.
A group of scientists from the University of Glasgow, whose main campus is often confused with the fictional winter wonderland Hogwarts, have developed a guidebook to assist individuals in managing the season. Titled “Light is a Right: A Guide to Wintering Well,” the book offers practical tips rather than magical solutions.
In addition to composing a letter to you, the book oddly does not provide your address. It also recommends creating a cardboard frame to deliberately observe and concentrate on a single area of the sky at a time (who needs Netflix?). My preferred suggestion, due to its cinematic atmosphere, involves imagining a medieval chamber filled with illumination, stained glass, and reflections. “Consider surfaces, glossy objects, mirrors, silver paper, glitter, a neon lamp, candles… cutouts on windows… Invite more of the outside world in, cultivate more fulfilling habits, and embrace cozy pleasures and enjoyable pastimes… Strive for what is attainable and accessible instead of fixating on the ideal and unattainable.”
Katherine May’s book, Wintering, gained unexpected popularity during lockdown due to its relatable themes. She notes that many stories and books feature winter as a setting, but emphasizes the importance of acceptance rather than escapism for maintaining well-being until spring.
Do not try to avoid winter, instead embrace it,” she suggests. “I know individuals who dislike it so much that they avoid doing anything during the entire season. We often waste a lot of energy trying to avoid things we dislike or do not want to occur, but accepting them and approaching them can reduce the suffering.”
I believe she may be implying that I extend an offer of peace, dear winter. How can I go about doing that? The Glasgow study ends with a quote from the poem Grey by Edwin Morgan, which encourages us to find some positivity in the darkness. “This moment, this day, so grey, so ordinary, yet so satisfying in its own way!” It’s a challenging request to try and embrace life with only intermittent moments of happiness. But I’ll share a secret with you. The mere act of writing this letter has lifted my spirits and lessened my gloom about your impending arrival.