"Surviving the Long Cold Winter" is a series first established on Retro-daze.org, where all previous installments can still be read. I highly recommend reading the first two articles before delving into the newest addition.
With the ho-ho-ho happiness of holiday warmth behind us, with the packing away of colorful lights and the disposal of Christmas trees, my eyes turn ever forward to the bleak winter ahead. Gone are the cookies and cakes, antipasto and turkey dinners. In the place of holiday greeting cards, a flood of mounting bills arrive.
Even so, I know I’ll survive this winter as I have previous years, because we have a fortress of nostalgia that we built in the first installment of “Surviving the Long, Cold Winter,” which we went on to fortify the following year in Part II of the series. And here we are again, back to lay a few cement bags around the perimeter and reinforce the tower’s surrounding gate. We can never be too careful, not when winter’s winds pound ceaselessly against our windows.
Still, this year is different. As I write this article, as if in quiet defiance, the weather has warmed to a pleasant 56 degrees Fahrenheit. All of the snow and ice has melted. Birds and squirrels cavort as if spring has come early. But I know these tricks. I’ve seen them in years past as my hopeful heart was shattered by sudden temperature drops, ice storms, and power outages. We can’t let this unseasonal warmth cause us to lower our guard. The cold is still out there, and before long it will surround us again. So we fortify with our favorite things in the hope that we will come out the other side unscathed by the winter doldrums.
In previous articles I outlined some of my favorite movies to watch during the winter (Better off Dead, The Thing, and The Shining chief among them), but we can’t keep watching the same selections year after year. So, I’ve dug deep into my magic bag of media to ferret out a few more necessary additions to our arsenal. Winter movies that, ironically, keep us warm with nostalgia.
First up is a movie that misses our cutoff by mere months, but is still a deserving candidate. Misery (1990) works as a perfect pairing with The Shining if you’re in the mood for a mini Stephen King marathon. Paul Sheldon’s captive state is not unlike our own once the winter snow falls again and traps us inside. Well, minus the psychotic super-fan anyway.
I’d love to add Groundhog Day (1993) to the list, as it’s a must-watch every February 2nd, but it falls considerably outside our decade of choice here at the 80sXchange, so I’m afraid I can’t. Was this offhand mentioning about how I can’t add the movie to our list a roundabout way of actually adding it anyway? Of course not! That would be devious and totally out of character for me.
Okay, I guess I should add something from the ‘80s now, so let’s go with Trading Places (1983). Normally I try to avoid any winter-themed movies that also take place on or around Christmas, but for some reason I never watch this movie during my Christmas viewing. In fact, I never even think of it as a Christmas movie. Maybe that’s because it also partly takes place on New Year’s Eve, or maybe because it doesn’t feel like a holiday movie.
Terror Train (1980) is another holiday movie (horror this time) that takes place on New Year’s Eve. But again, I’m giving it a pass because I never seem to watch it for the holiday. It’s not one of my favorites, but Jamie Lee Curtis’s starring roll means we can again do a mini marathon by paring it with Trading Places.
There, I’d say we have a good list of movies going. It’s time to score some grub. After New Year’s Eve, I usually have tons of antipasto ingredients left over. Various cheeses, mixed olives, crackers, roasted red peppers, stuff like that. Might as well make good use of it and set up a plate of what I consider a uniquely wintertime snack, probably because of how often I eat it during the holidays. There’s always the food of choice for movies: popcorn. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you popcorn is a winter-themed treat, but I do eat it all year long, so I see no reason to stop now. Maybe some mixed nuts and leftover candy is still lying around too. Might as well scoop those up.
Perhaps you’re noticing a distinct theme of laziness with this winter spread. To that I say, “Hell yes.” I just spent a solid month baking, cooking, and hosting holiday parties. I’m ready for some lazy snacking.
Speaking of being burnt out, why not add a little rum or bourbon to our hot chocolate this year? Just enough to warm us up while watching our movies. That sounds about perfect to me. And with these helpful little rituals in place, perhaps the long cold winter won’t feel quite so cold and long. Perhaps we’ll feel more of the cozy fire blazing in the fireplace than we will the biting wind outside. Perhaps we’ll find some solace in these quiet months between the holidays and springtime renewal.
What are some of your winter traditions that keep you happy and warm throughout the cold months?