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Surviving the Long, Cold Winter

By: onipar

The holidays are over. All of the shiny decorations are gone, presents have been opened, and we’ve eaten all the sugary treats. I stare through my window from a bleak January 2nd, feeling acutely the passing of our revelries. What lies ahead is a return to work and a departure from the nostalgia of holiday traditions.

The long cold of winter stares back with ice-blue eyes and icicle teeth. The snowstorm creature dares me to fight against its freezing grip.

I formulate a plan, piece by nostalgic piece, made up of media, food, and games.

My first goal is to build a monolith of winter-themed movies to choose from as the months wear on. I stack these movies into a literal tower from which I may fortify my defenses. The foundation of this tower is The Thing, John Carpenter’s 1982 Antarctic epic. Watching MacReady’s discovery of the shapeshifting alien creature hiding in the eternal winter of Antarctica has a strangely comforting effect on me. I may be snowed in. I may have work in the morning. But at least I don’t have to deal with The Thing!

Another quintessential winter movie that bolsters the tower’s foundation is The Shining. There’s nothing quite as blue and cold as Colorado’s Overlook Hotel while Jack Torrance is inhabiting its haunted rooms. The final scenes of this movie make me glad to have a hot fire and a warm robe.

While arguably a departure from retro media (having been released in 2001, 2002, and 2003), no winter marathon is complete without a complete viewing of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Though these movies have less literal winter atmosphere, they were all released in December of their respective years and will forever be tied to winter viewing for me. I eagerly anticipate my yearly travels with the Fellowship on their grand journey. Let’s go ahead and add every 1980s ski movie we can find, never forgetting the classic Better Off Dead.

Our tower of movies stands stalwart, yet still requires defenses. No movie marathon is complete without snacks, and so we will erect grand walls of treats. Perhaps the most nostalgic of winter beverages for me is a steaming cup of hot chocolate. As a kid, we’d make the hot chocolate from Nesquik powder (back when it was still called Quik and came in a metal tin). We’d heat milk in a pot on the stovetop, then add the powder and stir until we achieved hot chocolate perfection. Sometimes, a little extra Hershey candy was also crumbled in. To finish my mug, I’d use a leftover candy cane from the absent Christmas tree to stir my beverage and infuse the chocolate with a touch of peppermint. These days I’m more likely to add a dash of rum or bourbon. While we’re at it, let’s fill our moat with the bubbling chocolate inferno through which no winter attacker will survive.

The cold weather also calls for comfort food. This is going to be different for everyone, but some of my favorites are beef stew, baked macaroni and cheese, chicken soup with egg noodles, Sunday gravy (red meat sauce with spaghetti), meatloaf, and pretty much any dinner that is paired with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Beyond homemade, there was always the old standbys of Chinese takeout and pizza. The bricks of our walls are stolid meatloaf. Mashed potato makes perfect mortar, and our bridge is a hunk of baked mac and cheese.

The Nintendo and Super Nintendo always make an appearance behind the newly constructed walls around our tower. Behind these delicious defenses we set up a series of game rooms filled with Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Winter Games, Ice Hockey, and probably a box of Monopoly vying for attention. If I want to get the family involved, maybe a game of Omega Virus is in order. Or how about a few laps around Frappe Snowland in Mario Kart 64?

Staring through the ice-frosted window of our fortified winter tower, I feel ready for anything. There are bricks of books and comics laid throughout, ready for a quiet fireside perusal. Some old CDs and cassette tapes line the floors. In the corner is an entire chair made of marshmallows in case my hot chocolate requires extra adornment.

Inside our fortress, the death of the holidays isn’t so acutely painful anymore. And I know before long, the cycle will begin again as Springtime teases with new hope.


What are your winter traditions?

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onipar Posted on Jan 13, 2021 at 10:28 PM

RetroOtaku620: It's a pretty cool game, but I unfortunately don't have it anymore *and* it goes for a lot of money on the secondhand market.

Vaporman87: Thanks! Admittedly, I do like winter any way you slice it, and especially with these few enhancements in place.

Echidna64: Thank you! Oh man, tomato soup and grilled cheese is classic comfort! Gotta love it. Oh yes, the Star Wars movies were also released in December if I remember correctly, so the same kind of connection as the LOTR movies for sure.

echidna64 Posted on Jan 13, 2021 at 04:24 PM

This was a great article! A white christmas is great but the wet slush and gloomy skies from January - March are no fun at all. My go to is a warm bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich with the coffee pot running all day. I usually watch Star Wars movies in the winter, particularly The Empire Strikes Back with the Battle of Hoth lol

Vaporman87 Posted on Jan 11, 2021 at 05:59 PM

No doubt the trials of Winter can wear a man down, but on the bright side there are some annoyances that Winter frees us from; mowing, allergies, bugs literally everywhere...etc.

Your look into your own ways of making the best of it only further solidify that it's not THAT bad. :D

RetroOtaku620 Posted on Jan 11, 2021 at 12:58 PM

I have never heard of the Omega virus.

onipar Posted on Jan 07, 2021 at 12:33 AM

Thanks, Ben. Yeah, I'm always looking for ways to add enjoyment to my winters. I actually do quite enjoy winter.

Benjanime Posted on Jan 06, 2021 at 04:36 PM

bringing in a plethora of unhealthy snacks and artificially flavored drinks for a movie marathon sounds like it fits just right for this quarantine, and, basically any boring, uneventful week to tide you over. great article, i would have thought vapor would like this for the creativity ;)

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