Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winter is a blessing, not a bummer

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I used to love waking up on winter mornings when I was a kid. My great-grandpa Alphonse would always have the radio on CBC and something cooking on the wood stove in the front verandah. I'd join him for breakfast and we'd drink tea together and look out the frosty windows.

Winter is a time for storytelling. It is the time to tell kids stories you want them to remember, both of a traditional and modern nature. It's a time of rest and retrospection -- the Long Snows Moon.

Don't think of winter as a bummer, but a blessing. Slow down and enjoy this time of year. Here are a few things I'm planning to do this winter.

First, beading and sewing.

It's been many years since I've done any beading. I'm basically self-taught, with a bit of general knowledge thrown in with a bit of advice from others. Almost 20 years ago I got pretty good with a needle and I'd make my own designs and create barrettes and things.

It was a great hobby for a snowy day and something I'm going to revisit as I make my girl a pair of mukluks.

As for sewing, my home-economics class back in Hollow Water First Nation has served me well. I've come a long way from sewing the top and bottom of my apron together like a taco.

I've sewn some baby leggings already since the snow fell, but I'm also hoping to get back into baby-star-blanket-making and maybe sew some Christmas gifts, like some turtle-shaped oven mitts.

It's nice to make something for someone that they will treasure for many years to come.

Second, Christmas giving with purpose.

This year, I'm putting extra thought into what I'm giving and where I'm getting those gifts.

I'm not going to go overboard and do the whole "shopping frenzy and be broke until spring," as I sometimes have done in the past.

I've got a huge list because I've got a huge family. Presents don't have to be the most expensive and most popular toys, but something thoughtful for the person you are giving it to. That's what matters.

I'm making sure to give to others as well. I'm going to make some Winnipeg Harvest food donations and donate some clothes, jackets, boots and other items that I'm not using. Small donations can make a difference.

Oyate Tipi Cumini Yape on Selkirk Avenue always appreciates gently used furniture and household items. I drop off clothes to the Salvation Army or the North End Women's Centre's Up Shoppe.

I'm going to the Festival du Voyageur.

I know it's been around forever, but I haven't gone to Festival du Voyageur in many years. I vow to go this year for sure.

What's not to love about the French-Canadian festival of fun? There's a great mix of First Nations and Métis culture in there as well. There are the snow sculptures, the music, the food, and tons of new stuff too, like Métis beading, pemmican, and snow-goggle-making workshops. And it's probably the only place I can get away with wearing both my Hudson's Bay coat and my mukluks without a second glance.

Finally, I'm going to get out and about.

I've been a bit slothful lately, so I've got to start getting some exercise. I know my time is better spent going out for a walk before it gets dark than watching a little TV.

When the weather is nice, I'm going to start going for a good long walk to ward off the extra pounds that always seem to show up around this time of year, as well as keep my body healthy.

When it gets really cold, I'll just dress warmer and still get out there. After all, my ancestors would laugh at this kind of weather. I've got to do them proud.

Happy winter, everyone.


Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 J6

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