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WINTER COMFORTS

The song says it best: “Baby, it’s cold outside.” While you may not enjoy tromping through the snow and ice or dealing with the frigid temperatures outdoors, you can still enjoy some of the comforts of winter indoors. Hot cocoa, a stack of good books, and a soft fleece throw might be on your short list of favorites.  This month’s newsletter will provide some activities for weathering the cold and inspiring warm feelings about winter. Check out the ideas below.

  • Winter Talk: Read the following quote by poet Edith Sitwell: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” Ask: Do you enjoy winter? What do you like and dislike about the season? What things bring you comfort in the winter? Why do you think many people stick close to home during the winter months?
  • Warm Fabrics: Pass around samples of winter fabrics, such as wool, corduroy, flannel, fleece, velour, suede. Talk about the best way to stay warm during the winter (ex: flannel sheets, wool sweater and socks, fleece throw, suede coat, corduroy pants).
  • Hot Tea: Celebrate National Hot Tea Month. Listen to Doris Day’s rendition of “Tea for Two,” or sing the children’s song “I’m a Little Teapot.” Hold a tea-tasting event by offering five teas to sample. Vote on favorite flavor. Serve scones with the hot brew.
  • Friendship: Ask your group to bring in pictures of old friends. Sing the Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne.” Share comforting memories of old friendships. Ask: What is a friend? Who is the oldest friend that you can remember? Sing “Make New Friends,” and ask someone in the group to explain what the song writer meant by suggesting that some friends are ‘silver’ and others are ‘gold.’
  • Fireplace: Show a vintage photo of a family gathered around a fireplace. Describe how a roaring fire looks, sounds, and smells. Ask participants if they ever cooked over a fireplace or ate dinner by the hearth. Talk about ways to spend a long winter evening at home with family. Serve hot cocoa or warm spiced cider.
  • Knitting: Reminisce about Red Cross knitting projects for troops during World War II. Ask group members if they helped on the home front by knitting socks, mufflers, and sweaters from wool yarn. What do they recall about wool being in short supply during the war? Who taught them to knit?
  • Winter Olympics: Enjoy some Winter Olympics activities. Learn about Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in February. Share images of the three mascots chosen for the event. Make paper snowflakes. Play “Guess the Sport” by pantomiming the motions. Play Olympic Games (see Party Possibilities for suggestions on skiing, hockey, and bobsled).
  • Music: Take a musical vacation. Listen to the song “Faraway Places.” Ask participants if they like to travel. If they could go to another country on vacation, where would they go? Using as much live music as possible, take a singing-dancing tour of the world. Examples of music suggestions: Ireland – “Irish Washerwoman,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”; Italy – “Santa Lucia,” “O Sole Mio,” “Funiculi, Funicula,” “Arrivederci, Roma”; Australia – “Waltzing Matilda,” “Tie Me Kangaroo Down.”
  • Birds: Gather for an afternoon of bird watching. Show photos of winter bird species, and ask participants to name them. Listen to a CD of wild bird sounds. Make a simple bird feeder to hang outside near a window.
  • Board Games: Enjoy an afternoon of old-fashioned fun. Collect as many older board games as you can find, and ask participants to share what they remember about the games and how to play. Ones to look for: Monopoly, Parcheesi, Life, Yahtzee, Backgammon, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Scrabble, Checkers, Chutes and Ladders, Mah-jongg.
  • Eating: Prepare some simple comfort food. Try a slow cooker soup and homemade bread. Ask participants to share some of their favorite kitchen/warm-oven smells in the winter. Enjoy the scent of a fresh clove and citrus pomander ball.
  • Snow: Listen to some songs about snow, such as “Let It Snow,” or “Winter Wonderland.” Ask participants to reminisce about a snowbound day in their childhood home. What indoor/outdoor activities did they enjoy with siblings? Stage a snowball “fight” using white Styrofoam balls or hold a snowball toss.
  • Funny Songs: Beat the winter blahs: Sing some silly or novelty songs from the 1950s and 1960s. (Examples: “Name Game,” “Hello Muddha, Hello Fadduh,” or “Yakety Yak”)
  • Poetry: Read and discuss winter poems by New England poet Robert Frost: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “A Winter Eden,” “Dust of Snow,” “Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter,” “A Patch of Old Snow,” “Snow,” or “An Old Man’s Winter Night.”

WINTER TRIVIA QUIZ

  1. What is considered freezing temperature in Fahrenheit? 32 degrees
  2. In which state would you find igloos? Alaska
  3. Pine, fir, cedar, and spruce are varieties of what type of tree? Evergreen
  4. What is hypothermia? When the temperature of your body drops too low due to exposure to the cold
  5. When is the last day of winter on the calendar? March 20
  6. On a house, where do icicles often hang in the winter? From the eaves
  7. Some animals go into a deep sleep-like state during the winter. What is the name for this? Hibernation
  8. How many points does a snowflake have? Six
  9. What is another word for sled? Toboggan, bobsled, sleigh
  10. According to the song “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” who is nipping at your nose? Jack Frost

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” ~ Jane Austen

“Winter Comforts” was written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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