Thanks for Winter!
It's easy to complain about winter… but it has many silver linings, besides some empowering reminders for us during hard times.
It’s easy to complain about winter. For one thing, it’s very cold. The howling wind and freezing temperatures can be extremely uncomfortable. You must be concerned about slipping on the ice while walking or dangerous skidding if you’re driving. You can’t even get out of your driveway without scraping all that frost off the windshield. Often there’s a load of snow that must be shoveled. The absolute worst is when your feet get wet from the slush and you are shivering cold until you can get inside and put on some dry socks.
It’s dark in the morning when you wake up and dark in the evening when you leave work. There’s no greenery or flowers. The skies are grey, and the birds are not singing.
I grew up in Binghamton, New York, with brutal winters. I used to dread the onset of this seemingly endless season. Now I live in Philadelphia where it’s less severe but still very challenging.
When I was a young boy, one of my best friends, Jimmy, would sing “I’ve waited all year, it’s almost here, I just can’t wait for winter!” When he would do this, his brother Mike and I would have a fit!
My uncle Eli would look outside when there was a blizzard and say: “If this is what Hashem wants then I know it’s good, and I’m going to be happy no matter what!” This must have been challenging because he ran a retail store that depended on walk in business and he likely had very customers on stormy days.
You know, I’ve begun to realize that Jimmy and Uncle Eli were onto something.
When I was struck by a car this summer and recovered due to the kindness of Hashem, I resolved to work on gratitude. Therefore, I think it’s time for me to change my bad attitude about winter and transform it to an attitude of gratitude. To do this, I did some research and reflection on the advantages of winter.
I must grudgingly admit that snow is beautiful. When it covers the ground with a white blanket, it seems so serene and picturesque.
The cold crisp air is fresh and quite invigorating on a winter day.
There are no bugs, so you don’t have to worry about wasps, mosquitoes, and flies. No need to repeatedly swat away pesky bugs when you are trying to enjoy the outdoors.
When it’s cold, your body must work harder to maintain its core body temperature and as a result, you can burn more calories. Moreover, trudging through the snow takes up more energy than just walking on a clear surface.
Seasonal snow is an important part of the earth’s climate system. Snow cover helps regulate the temperature of the earth’s surface, and once that snow melts, the water helps fill rivers and reservoirs in many parts of the world. This is especially important in northern Israel and the western United States.
Snow is very important for agriculture. When snow melts, farm fields are properly irrigated and ready for planting in the spring.
Snow functions as an excellent insulator of the soil. Without snow, extremely cold temperatures can freeze the soil deeper and deeper. This can lead to damage of root systems of trees and shrubs.
Colder temperatures help people think clearly. Research shows that people perform tasks better when they’re in a cooler temperature rather than a warmer one.
If you have outdoor allergies, pollen count is virtually non-existent in cold and snowy weather.
This demonstrates that Hashem has a master plan. Winter and snow are not created to torment us, but for our benefit. We already knew this, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
I think this also applies to the wintry, frigid, and bleak times of our lives. If anyone had justification to be discouraged about the grim nature of his life it was Joseph. After being sold into slavery and then thrown into jail on trumped-up charges, he could easily have fallen into despair. Instead he maintained his emuna, courage, and morale. As a result, he attracted people to him and rose to prominence. His emuna and indefatigable optimism became the source of his salvation.
We can learn from this approach. When the skies are grey, and our lives feel cold and desolate we can count our blessings and thank Hashem, both for the good and seemingly bad. This not only helps us to navigate through these icy stretches but is especially precious to Hashem. When He sees that we are going above our nature, He goes above nature to send us miraculous salvations. Eventually, like Joseph, we’ll see the sun shine through those dark clouds. We’ll hear the birds singing (a song) for us. We’ll see the flowers pop-up and bloom on formerly frigid terrain.
So, let’s look for the positive and remember never to complain. Hashem loves us and everything he does is for our benefit, all is for the very best. This winter when you think about bellyaching regarding the weather or about the stormy times in your life, pause and remember to thank Hashem. The snowy weather and cold spells are gifts given to us in love.