By LaKeshia Knarr
As winter approaches and the leaves begin to change colors and fall from branches, I can’t help but begin to reminisce about past holiday seasons and what is ahead. What’s in store is certainly not a guarantee, but there are definitely things that I always look forward to as we close out the final chapter of each calendar year.
Here’s a quick look at five things I enjoy about the holiday season and winter more broadly, as well as some related #PAWildsMade products to help you enjoy these things this season too.
Snacks are good all year round, but wintertime ones are fun to play with as you look to complement the brisk weather. Soups, indoor-made s’mores (microwaved for 15 seconds!), coffee, freshly baked rolls with jam, fudge – they all hit differently in the winter. One snack that has a special place in my heart will forever be walnuts. When I was a child, my grandfather always gave me a bag of walnuts and a nutcracker for Christmas. It was fun learning to crack the nuts and working for the contents. To this day, it’s a special treat for me at wintertime, though I haven’t had to crack my own in several years thanks to being an adult and purchasing already shelled walnuts. (Tip: toast the walnuts on a skillet for a few minutes for an extra special winter snack.)
When missing cooler temperatures in the summertime, I joke candidly with friends, “You can always put layers on, but you can only get so naked.” Winter is the perfect time for layers and coziness. I love this time of year because I can pull out my fuzzy socks, long-sleeve shirts and sweaters, boots, scarves, and jackets. No matter whose house I’m at while celebrating the season, you can rest assured that my outfit will include a scarf to keep my neck warm.
When winter finally hits and the ice or snow make it more challenging to explore the outdoor spaces that bring peace, finding an indoor game or activity is critical to keeping away the winter blues. Whether it’s a puzzle, a card game, or just a good book, it’s important to find ways to keep your mind busy. A bonus to these types of activities is that they can be enjoyed solo or with friends and family.
Taking a moment to reach out to the special people in my life.
While many people think about the gift giving aspect of this season, I like to reflect on the warmth of connection. Sending a card, email or text message – or even giving a friend or loved one a call – is a nice way to let the people in your life know that they are on your mind, regardless of whether they are on your gift list or not. Sharing a card that showcases where you are and the natural beauty around you, even if it is an image from a different season, is a great touch. In fact, it can actually remind people that the cold is temporary while also providing inspiration for their next visit.
Planning for the New Year.
Let’s face it: change is difficult. Reflecting back on the year and using lessons learned as a way to plan for the next year is a fun practice that allows me to get my bearings for the New Year ahead. Planning for the fun parts of the year makes it even better. Now’s the time to start considering where you will be going in 2024.
The PA Wilds Outdoor Discovery Atlas is a great tool for looking at places to visit in the Pennsylvania Wilds region. I like to use it to drill down into each landscape, or sub-region – and that helps me digest which parts of the region haven’t really been uncovered yet. Using the Atlas in combination with the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Passport is a great way to gamify the travel experience. Make sure to collect the stamps for all 29 state parks and 8 state forests while exploring the Wilds!
About the author:
LaKeshia Knarr is a Central Pennsylvania native, artist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of all things history. Since childhood she has valued the beauty and serenity of nature. An award-winning writer, she aims to tell the stories and history of the people and places of the Pennsylvania Wilds and build connections among them. LaKeshia serves as the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Director at the PA Wilds Center and helps manage program development, outreach and content marketing.