Rewinding to childhood never felt so good

By JESSICA YOCHERER

It’s as if the older we get, the worse the holidays seem. We are no longer children, free to enjoy a snowball fight or sledding. There’s no more making a macaroni necklace for someone we love and that being sufficient. Gone are the days where we just gathered around friends and family and were greeted with an endless amount of heartwarming joy.

As adults, all we can do is take our reasoning skills that we’ve dutifully practiced and apply them to this daunting question: what exactly was it about being a kid that made the holidays so much fun?

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“I like the snow,” said 5-year-old Rose Schommer of West Bend. “I like sledding and playing with my sisters.”

It seems like such a simple answer, but maybe there’s value in stripping down the winter months to a core essence. There’s no reason to think we’re too old to enjoy winter traditions. Even if it seems silly or immature, there’s something about embracing nostalgia that can bring comfort in stressful times.

It might have been a couple of years since you’ve worn snow pants, or more realistically, even owned a pair. This year, it’s time to throw vanity aside and break out the unabashedly unflattering winter gear. It’s not necessarily how you look in them, but what you can do when you wear them. Suddenly, the snow isn’t so bad – sledding hills seem conquerable and snowmen seem possible.

Once you’ve gotten yourself so bundled up that you resemble a snowman yourself, it’s time to start exploring.

First stop: the sledding hill. Close your eyes and try to imagine the rush of wind on your face while gliding down a wintery white hill. There’s a rush of speed, but also the excitement of risk. When children reach the bottom of a snow hill, they’re laughing because of the rush. As an adult, you may laugh because you’ve just narrowly avoided certain death. Either way, there’s laughter.

“I never thought of sledding as an option as an adult,” said Cody Weiss, 27-year-old West Bend resident. “It wasn’t until I had a son that I remembered how fun it was.”

If the rush of sledding isn’t your thing, or just thinking of traipsing up the hill afterwards gives you a side ache, there’s always the tamer option of building a snowman.

Like sledding, building a snowman is inherently a group activity. You’re definitely going need someone to help pack that heavy snow into a convincing round body, so grab some friends and get to it! The best part about it is the snowman is, essentially, a blank canvas. It can be a boy or a girl, a pirate or a zombie, a debonair playboy or a crazy cat lady.

There’s no reason that you must dress your snowman with the typical role of a corncob pipe and carrot nose. Even the act of choosing its identity creates a childlike playfulness that once seemed so natural.

Once your snowman is done or you’re too tired to trudge up a sledding hill again, it’s time to bring on the second phase of the winter wonderland extravaganza: getting cozy.

For stressed-out adults, the idea of “getting cozy” is sneaking in a nap in between the laundry list of obligations. Before you break out the Snuggie, think about what you’re really getting in return. While you might feel slightly refreshed, all that you’re really left with is slightly lighter dark circles and messy hair.

A more productive, and better tasting alternative, is to break out the apron and start baking. Invite over some friends and bring out your inner-Martha Stewart while enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.

“I’m not much of a baker, but how can the smell of fresh baked cookies not cheer you up?” said Sarah Olds, owner of Carpe Diem Hair Studio in West Bend.

Not unlike the blank canvas snowman, decorating cookies is a great way to channel your inner child. Your gingerbread man could turn into a nearsighted nerd with coke-bottle glasses or a sulky hipster. Seeing what you and your friends come up with is certain to incite laughter and relieve stress.

The key to enjoying winter like a child is to embrace the months instead of fighting them. With the perfect balance of exciting outdoor activities and soul-warming indoor ones, even the most jaded adult can begin to feel tension releasing as joy takes its place.

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