I wrote this moderately tongue-in-cheek list of ways to ward off seasonal depression over the weekend because the nights just got very long and the days just got very short and my gosh it’s been a shitty year. And then I learned that twenty-six people were shot dead in a Texas church. This, less than a week after eight people in my own city were mowed down by a truck on the West Side Highway. I do not know the right thing to do. I know that seasonal crafts feel small and pitiful in the face of gun violence and terrorism. I know that festive mittens aren’t solving world crises. I also know that winter is long and taking a vow of joylessness won’t help matters either.
In spite of everything, here’s a list to consult now that we’ve reached the season of fumbling around in the dark while making morning coffee. Please, oh, please, fill the comments section with your own bits of brilliance:
1. Make a twee lantern to ward off the dark. Gather a small honeynut squash, hollow out the inside, cut a series of questionably artful slashes, and plop in a candle. If you happen to have a precocious three-year-old in your midst, school them on fire safety and watch them delight in their glowing orb before they abandon it to run pell-mell down the sidewalk two minutes later, leaving you to carry the lighted orb yourself like some kind of wacky autumn fairy.
2. Invite friends over for chili. (Invite yourself over for chili at a friends’ house). Shrug your shoulders when you realize your child has only eaten a spoonful of rice but a fistful of candy corn. There are worse things.
5. Commit to cheery cold-weather accessories. Persimmon-colored mittens, anyone?
6. Make pumpkin pie from scratch.
7. Go watch strangers exert themselves for sport. Yell encouraging things. Have you ever yelled “You! Look! Amazing!” at the top of your lungs? Give it a try. You cannot stay sad when yelling those words.
8. Get into nature. Turn off your phone. Gather up acorns. Wonder what you’re going to do with them. Nothing. Do nothing with your collected acorns but marvel at them.
10. Find the neighborhood bar or restaurant with live music and make a pilgrimage. Same place, same time, as often as possible, with the entire brood if you’re able.
13. Believe in magic.
14. Give yourself permission to change into pajamas as early as possible.
15. Get into nature again. Turn off your phone. Gather up pinecones. Contemplate their perfection. If you’re feeling festive, arrange them on a mantelpiece or a window ledge or a countertop, or hang them on the wall.
Now, your turn!