I’ve been contemplating the theme of unexpected joy for a couple of weeks now, and I really wanted to write about something profound, something beautiful. I kept my eyes peeled for a magical moment in nature, noticing the one tree left in our neighbourhood with brilliant red leaves amidst all the gray dreariness that has come with the onset of winter. I tried to notice particularly special moments with my kids, like my daughter asking to kiss me on both cheeks before bed. I kept my spiritual joy radar attuned as much as possible amidst busy days and late nights. When I paid attention, I did notice many simple, yet profound things that brought me joy. Yet, though truly enjoyable, none of these things seemed wholly unexpected.
If I am to be completely honest, the one little thing that has brought me the most joy in the past few weeks, which has also been completely unexpected, is not beautiful, nor profound. On the contrary, it is utterly practical and mundane.
It is fleece-lined leggings.
For those who may not know, I live in Edmonton, Alberta. The winters here are long, and they are very cold.
I do not like the cold.
Of course, I always make do, managing to keep pretty warm using the many methods I’ve learned over the course of the fourteen winters I’ve now spent here. Layers are a must, slippers are always on my feet, and I can often be found sitting directly in front of the fireplace-shaped space heater in our living room on a winter’s evening. I’m blessed to have warm winter outerwear and a furnace to keep our house pleasant. Most of the time, it’s enough.
But there are those days. Those ultra-freezing, -40 degrees Celsius days, when any inch of exposed skin almost hurts, and even the smallest breeze makes it feel doubly cold. On those days, every extra effort toward warmth is required when I am stepping outside the house (or even staying in). Simply wearing my regular pants with a long winter coat and tall winter boots is not enough to keep my legs sufficiently warm. In the past, I would wear tights under my pants, or sometimes even the old yoga-style pants someone passed on to me years ago. My legs were usually warm enough, but it wasn’t always the most comfortable feeling.
This year, though we seemed to have a longer fall than usual, somehow winter also seemed to come upon us suddenly. The temperature is dropping and the snow is falling. At first, I was dismayed, but before my self-pitying thoughts began spiraling, I stopped myself short. No. If this is the beginning of six long months of winter, I cannot afford to be miserable about it. I am homeschooling, I have young kids, and I want us to be active and spend time outdoors, particularly during this time of pandemic. Beyond that, I want to be joyful and spread joy to those around me, winter or no winter.
So, I’m upping my winter game. I made sure my mom’s old ski suit she gave me years ago still fits. I’m getting good snow gloves for myself, not just for the kids. And the last time I was at Costco, I finally picked up some leggings for a more comfortable extra layer of warmth. Fleece-lined leggings, to be precise. Not having been a legging-wearer previously, I tried them on as soon as I got home to see how they fit. As soon as I slid them on, all I could think was, “Fleece-lined leggings, where have you been all my life?” They were warm, they were ever so soft, they were the most comfortable pants I’d ever worn – they felt like a second skin. Not only do I love to be warm, but I also like to be cozy, so for me this was utter textile bliss. I found myself wanting to wear them so much, I almost wished it would be colder out! Sure, I had expected the leggings to keep me warmer, but the absolute perfection I experienced was completely unexpected, and it made my day – my week!
We’ll see if my new seasonal measures lead to as many winter adventures as I’m hoping or not, and I’m sure I’ll still complain about the cold at least once or twice… or more. But I do know that my unassuming Costco purchase on a grey October afternoon has brought me some surprising winter happiness, and will continue to spark joy for me throughout the coming months. When the cold seems to last forever, I’ll have a little something positive to look forward to. Because sometimes the unexpected, simple things in life that bring joy are also the most ordinary. Sometimes all it takes is a pair of leggings.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Unexpected Joy”.