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Dealing with the Winter Doldrums



"The dark days of winter are upon us, and I am concerned that my father is going to sink into a sad place after the holidays. It will be cold, snowy, and dark. All of us kids are still working so we do not have as much time to spend at his place as he would like. 

Mom is gone, and since that time he has been quite lonely. Dad gets around, though he does not drive anymore. We take him anywhere that he wants to go. 

Please help with some ideas. We are bored with virtual conferencing and I think that he is too. How do we entertain him this winter?"



COVID has definitely made us all a bit stir crazy, and your father is likely even more isolated than those of you who are working. Fighting the winter blahs is tough under normal circumstances and now it is more so.

I am suggesting some common and some out-the -box ways to spice it up this winter. Hopefully, you will discover a few ideas on this list that you can try with your dad. Here are my recommendations:

  • This is a great year for Christmas light viewing. Pick an evening soon to drive around to view the lights in the neighborhoods.
  • Place a few bird feeders outside his favorite window if he doesn’t already have one.
  • Find an organization that can use one of the unique skills that your father possesses. He can volunteer for them. It may be reading to first graders, stuffing envelopes, making calls to shut-ins, or a variety of other tasks that have value to people in these times.  Numerous older men build houses through Habitat for Humanity.
  • Take him to the library on a regular schedule. He can read papers, take out movies, books on tape, and regular books.
  • Projects are the best thing to keep our minds engaged and less focused on ourselves.  Whatever your father is good at doing is the project you should ask him to do for you. It could be organizing family game night, helping grandchildren with homework, repairing anything he knows how to fix, or making something in his shop.
  • Find a snow sculpting competition and go visit the sculptures.
  • Have dad start to organize the family photos into categories – by years, vacations, child, or just his favorites. Make a book for each of his children with the photos. He can even upload them to print an actual book for each child or grandchild for a future gift.
  • Ask dad to write his story. Let him know that it need not be publish worthy. Assure him that knowing about his life will become a wonderful treasure for the family someday, as it is often after our parents are gone that we wish we had asked more questions.
  • Connect him to online games. They are a huge time waster for many, though oh so fun.  Some of them are interactive, which gives him connection to others.

As you can see, we are only limited by our will and creativity. It is possible to survive the cold dark winters and keep ourselves busy and engaged. It takes a bit more effort, but can be done.

I wish you well on your winter trek.