Confession: I actually like dark winter mornings.
The thing to do seems to be to complain about them—how hard it is to get out of bed when it feels like the middle of the night, how impossible it seems to wake up, how cold the house feels after leaving a warm, cozy bed. And those things are true. I want to stay in bed every morning, even if I’m awake before my alarm. My bed is so much more comfortable in the morning than it is at bedtime, my mind is so much more relaxed (not to mention my body). It’s especially tempting to linger when I know I’ve remembered to turn the thermostats down overnight and the house will be cold until I turn them back up and brought the house a little closer to the “comfort zone.”
The disadvantages of being the first one up.
I could be miserable about it. And I think I would be if I felt like I was being forced out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom and being thrown into the chaos of waking kids up, making lunches, and getting our days started and then having to rush into my work.
But a while ago I started getting up an hour and a half before I wake the kids up on school days, and it’s helped me look at these mornings a little differently.
It’s hard to get out of bed, but when I do I usually have the house to myself. I turn the heat up and make myself a nest of blankets in my favourite chair to retreat to after I’ve stretched muscles that have cramped up overnight. I light a candle or turn on some electric votives and watch them flicker as I sit and plan my day. I meditate in a house that’s full of life but that sounds empty save for an occasional snore and the sounds of the cats running around (and body slamming each other repeatedly to the floor most days… morning is high energy time for some creatures in this house). I cook myself eggs and read or listen to a podcast instead of shovelling cold cereal into my mouth like I might manage if I were trying to fit my own morning around everyone else’s needs.
I take care of myself like it’s actually a priority.
There’s something pleasantly lonesome in a dark winter morning, and a kind of calmness I don’t feel when I get up at the same time in the summer.
That’s not to say I won’t appreciate early sunrises when they come. Instead of candles I’ll have the sun filtering through coloured glass, casting bright shadows on the walls. Instead of cozying in with blankets, I’ll have a refreshing shower (which I’ll need if this summer is as hot as the last one was). It will probably be easier to get out of bed. Maybe I’ll even sit outside sometimes to drink my coffee if the bugs aren’t too bad.
But for now, I like this—the chill, the darkness, feeling grateful for my chair, my blankets, and sturdy walls to keep the howling wind at bay.
Quiet winter mornings make it easy to be thankful.
*That’s right. I live in Canada, but my thermostats are so old they measure in Fahrenheit and apparently date back to a time when the only thing that existed between 55 and 90 was “comfort.”