Growing up is a weird thing. Your feet get bigger, your armpits start to smell, and your love for the little things in the world starts to decline. Flowers whose petals you once saw glistening in the morning mist are just rosebushes now, cannonballs in the pool aren’t as enticing as tanning in the sun beside it, and Hallowe’en involves less walking around for candy and more stumbling home from a party trying not to barf.
But with all this faded childhood wonder throughout everything else, why is it that winter brings out such a lovely nostalgia? Suddenly everyone is excited about crafts fairs, people putting up lights, and the snow!
It seems no matter where I go, whether the streets will soon be packed with it, or you’ve been having freezing rain for the last month, everyone gets excited by that first snowfall of the year. It can make you forget all your troubles as you look up at the flakes from above: with no apparent direction, landing softly, melting at first and then growing into large piles that you can fall into. You feel a sense of magic in the air as you watch the landscape change around you.
I think part of that nostalgia from snow is due to the effect it has on people, where it can take the most responsible of adults and bring out the kid in them. Folks run for cover as snowball fights break out, and friends turn on friends as they dump snow down your back when you’re least expecting. Soon enough, everyone is breathing hard, with breaths misting, faces glowing red, smiling with glee.
The best part is that you don’t have to be rich to enjoy snow. All you need is a baking sheet, a small slope, and the ability to aim for the bushes as you race down an icy hill.
But one of the reasons why everyone can love snow in the first place is our attitudes towards it despite the weather. Winter is one of the darkest times of the year, when it’s hard to get out of bed and go to school, or to smile when your car is ten feet under. Yet, despite the flurries, freezing rain, and icy sidewalks, the white-out nights that leave you trapped in your home, and the cold walks back to your house after work, despite it all, people still want to have fun.
They want to be merry to the point where everyone has this collective goal to spread it to others. You invite friends to go skiing during a harsh winter night, where the wind chills you to the bone; challenge neighbours to build the best snow fort on the block and have to get three people to push a snowball; awkwardly go skating with your boyfriend on a way-too-small rink. You find things to do and then foster this community of friends and family, where you spread laughter and joy within this otherwise desolate landscape.
As you grow older, you tend to get too busy for these fun, wintry things. Snow isn’t something you look forward to; it’s something to slug through, getting your feet wet. Your anxiety about the traffic becomes the focus of your day as black ice makes its debut. Once you get home, all you want to do is curl up in your blankets for the night, even though it’s only five o’clock.
You forget about all those good things about winter and the happiness you crafted from them since childhood. When you look back on your nostalgic years, that joy can feel out of reach. You yearn for those simpler times and simpler pleasures.
Then you’re walking home one night, and, seeming to twinkle against the streetlights, the first flakes start to come down. You notice how they fall with no pattern, no sound, and no worries in the world.
That’s when you reminisce about all those good times, and you remember that you have friends who would love the excuse to feel weightless with delight, as you all band together and make the best snowman on the block.