Happy New Year! How’s 2017 going for you so far? We’ve been having a lovely time; the kids are off school, so yesterday we went on a train adventure to the Natural History Museum (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet), and today James and I are trying to get a couple hours of work in while the kids play at a friend’s house (note: expect only a couple posts this week). It’s the first time we’ve ever dropped them with a friend and left! I suspect they’re having way more fun playing with new toys and right-sized friends than sitting around with boring old mom and dad. =)
While scrambling to get some work done with two kiddos underfoot, we’re also preparing for a trip to Spain. Late next week, we leave for a small seaside town called Nerja for two weeks. After our first full winter in Sweden a couple years ago, we realized that we couldn’t do it again: it’s just too bleak, dark, and cold for us to endure the eight-month winter with no reprieve. Last year, even August seemed to get quite depressed in December and January, so we whisked off to Portugal for a month. This year we chose Spain, and we’re looking forward to sunshine and warmth, going for walks without bundling the kids into multiple layers plus overalls and hats and mittens, and watching sunrise before 8:45am.
Last year, after we booked our midwinter trip to Portugal, we had dinner with the neighbors. We told them how excited we were to be going, to get some sunlight and warmth and take a break from the Swedish winter. Do you guys ever go away in the winter? we asked. No, Henrik replied. Each day the sun rises earlier and I watch the light return. That is enough.
His comment really struck me. Watching the sun rise just one minute earlier than the previous day, seeing the days slowly elongate, feeling the light gradually come back: enough. There was a time in my life when maybe that would have been enough for me, too—appreciating the nuances between days, quietly watching the sun rise and set with a journal and a cup of tea; but now I have young boys, and the very notion of subtlety is laughable at best.
Now, when life is already hard enough, with daily tears and tantrums and fights to get dressed to go outside and the endless (endless!) picking up of Lego, I need something with a little more zest to help me through the winter. Beach walks, warm afternoons at the park, ten hours of sunlight every day, the Mediterranean—yes, please! It feels not so much a luxury as a necessity, a mental health break, an injection of Vitamin D to keep us going.
But I do keep returning to this notion of enough. What is enough? This morning after waking, Leif and I laid down on the couch together under a thick, soft blanket. I wrapped him in my arms, feeling his smooth baby skin against mine, listening to his breathing. He pulled at my elbows, as he always does when tired or resting, and cuddled into me. We tapped each other’s noses, then played with exhaling onto each other (the things kids find interesting!); mostly we just laid there, nestled into our warmth, still and quiet. And that—that was enough.
What is enough for you now, in the depth of winter? What are your simplest pleasures? What are you savoring in this season?