The Charm of Home in the Winter

The Charm of Home in the Winter
The Charm of Home in the Winter

This essay first appeared in the January 1924 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine–100 years ago this month.

There is no time like winter time to turn the human heart toward home. Summer days are days of roaming, when the hills call and the woods beckon and there is invitation everywhere to be up and away. And home is a resting place, a restaurant, a bedroom, the starting place for a journey into a field of freedom. When we must stay in the house, we throw open doors and windows. We try to bring the outdoors in in compensation for our incarceration. And lo, winter comes. The hillsides are covered with sodden vegetation, the woods hold out bare, gaunt hands, and the invitation is changed to a challenge except for the hardy few.

home in winter

Then in its turn, home gleams and snuggles and invites. Its doors are closed against the cold. They are a barrier to the howling winds, the driving rain, the cold hands of death that winter symbolizes. “Back, stand back!” say the gleaming fires, making a summer lands in which there is the lure to which one gladly yields. It is a surcease of longing, balm for tired feet, rest, and sleep.

the charm in every season

Perhaps that is what makes the round of our year so pleasant. One tires of what one has always; in newness there is charm. Spring is always beautiful because it follows winter. Summer delights because it is different from spring; it is a time of intensities rather than halfway passions. Autumn holds out lavish hands to heap our baskets full of richness to be cherished. Then winter comes, and the horizon narrows. Gray day follows gray day, with the cold deepening and gathering strength until it rushes out at one at every turn. Then home comes into its own, its honest love winning back the wandering feet that have followed so many trails since winter was here before.

at home in the winter

Dawn comes cold and gray. Over the snow the red sun gleams, trying to win back lost affection by a show of warmth. The hills hide their nakedness with a shroud, thereby hoping to deceive. Bare trees hold newly fallen snow in imitation of their fallen leaves. But the eye turns sure and unwavering to the streamer floating up into the sky from the chimney, a sign of home.

There is no winter day so bright that it can long compete with the glowing hearth, so morning and noon and afternoon leave the heart securely tied. And when the winter night comes down and the stars come out–God’s in His heaven, man’s in his home–there is no place in all the wide world quite so nice, quite so sure to offer peace and satisfaction, as this.

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