10. Outdoor Ice Skating…especially fun on ponds. Broomball is a great game for the whole family. Part hockey, part hilarious this game is a slippery way to burn off a few of the too-many-holiday-cookies calories.
9. Animal tracks. Fresh snow, or even wintertime mud, is a great way to discover the critters in your neighborhood. See if your kids can identify the differences between canine and feline tracks, and try to find a mouse track (the impression left by the tail is a great way to identify one).
8. Outdoor icicles. The ones hanging on your Christmas tree are nice…but the ones hanging from the tree in your front yard have historical legacy….and are much tastier.
6. Going sledding and building snow people. One of the times you are guaranteed not to have to cajole your children into multiple layers of clothes, but you might need to cajole them to come inside for dinner.
5. Making holiday decorations from natural objects. Besides cutting down your own tree (a great family tradition), you can make fragrant wreaths, centerpieces, and door swags from the nature that you have nearby.
4. Creating animal trees. The animals will appreciate a few treats around the holidays, and nothing is better than peanut butter-birdseed-pinecone ornaments. The birds (and maybe your dog) will love you forever.
3. Seeing different (read: not evergreen) trees illuminated by lights. One winter, in La Paz, MX, I saw a palm tree wrapped in a strand of multi-colored lights and now I look for out-of-the-ordinary trees and bushes that have been festooned for the holidays. Most recently: a pile of stacked tumble weeds illuminated by a farmhouse on the Kansas prairie.
2. All-NATURAL workout. Shoveling snow and scraping ice? Thank you, Mother Nature, for the requisite motivation to get out and move this morning.
1. A REAL Context for Christmas Carols. While we walk in a winter wonderland, we can build Frosty the Snowman because, now the ground is white, and we are heedless of the wind and weather. O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way to where the treetops glisten, and to where all is calm and all is bright. We are caroling out in the snow, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains remind us that heaven and nature sing. We were expecting a silent night, but the sun was hot that day, then—with a look down from the sky—we shouted, “Let it snow!” The snow came upon a midnight clear, and folks dressed up like Eskimos. In fields as they lay making snow angels with their friends and family, those of us who love the natural world hope that all your Christmases be white.