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Wallowing in a Winter Wonderland?

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By Catherine Roebuck, Social Media and Communications Specialist

If you live somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine for half of the year (here’s looking at you, Ohio, home of Fraternity Headquarters), then you know all about cabin fever. No, not the creepy horror film, but the irritable listlessness one feels after long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter, according to the Oxford Dictionary. For many of us, winter break can mean getting stuck inside due to blizzards, ice storms or below-freezing temperatures. Just the idea of going outside on one of those days makes us weep.

Instead of tears and one of those happy lights you’re supposed to stare at to simulate daylight (no joke, those exist), here are some great ways to fight off the winter blues.
1. Try baking: Not only will baking something give you delicious treats to nom on later, having your oven on will also warm up your house. If you are a baking novice, try something simple, like thumbprint cookies or brownies from scratch. More of a pro? Up the ante by trying macarons, a light-as-a-feather French treat known for being temperamental (meringue is the capricious culprit).

2. Learn to ski or snowboard: Check out local ski resorts in your area to see if they offer any beginner classes. Grab some friends and shred some fresh powder for a day full of fun and exercise. Already know how to ski or snowboard? Try your hand at the other! Know how to do both? Color me impressed.

3. Read a book: Some days are just destined to be lazy days. Take the opportunity to pick up a good book you’ve been meaning to read and snuggle on the couch with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa. Check out the latest reading suggestions in The Key or stop by your local library’s shelf of new releases.

4. Build an igloo: This is something that will take time and dedication, but the end result will be awesome! There are different DIYs out there for both ice and snow, but you’ll need patience and plenty of breaks to warm up before you are finished. This is definitely for those seeking a winter challenge.

5. Craft: Nothing cures the winter blues quite like continuously stabbing your thumb with a sewing needle while trying to be a craft master. Whether you make a felt campfire for a child (or your faux fireplace), cross stitch a floral masterpiece, or paint and reupholster that vintage chair you just had to have, crafting is sure to keep you busy when temperatures dip below freezing.

6. Slumber Party: I’m not talking your average sleepover, here. I’m talking about a build-a-fort, grab-the-old-school-board-games and throw-on-a-boy band-CD kind of sleepover. The type of sleepover during which you order way too much pizza and stay up way too late laughing with your friends and doing each other’s hair. It’s a nice escape from being an adult, even if only for a night.

7. Have a spa day
: Ahh, the spa. A place of relaxation, tranquility and pampering. While a full day at the spa can cost a pretty penny, you can achieve the same feeling at home. Throw on some relaxing music, light candles and dim the lights while you soak in a rose petal bath or apply a face mask. End your day by snuggling in a soft robe with some tea and you’ll feel relaxed and reenergized.

8. Have a movie marathon
: With more and more trilogies and sequels coming out, take a day to veg out on the couch with a movie marathon. Spend all day deep in the wizarding world with Harry Potter, or watch a series of your favorite chick flicks for a day of romance, heartbreak and girl power. Just make sure you keep snacks on hand and some good company by your side.

9. Volunteer: As a Kappa, you already know the meaning of spending your time volunteering. Why not continue by giving back over break? Spend the day playing with kitties and puppies at your local animal shelter or give back to those less fortunate at a soup kitchen or coat drive. Not only will you feel better at the end of the day, but you’ll have made someone else’s day better, too.

10. Take a class: Always wanted to be a dancer but never took classes? Do you fancy sewing your own dresses but can barely stitch together a hole in your sweater?  Now’s your chance to learn something new! Check around town for a class in something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe you fancy a go at glass blowing, or you want to learn how to play guitar. Nothing is out of the question. If you don’t want to pay for classes, you could also teach yourself using videos or online tutorials (unless it’s dangerous … best to leave that to the professionals).

Huntsville AA
BONUS! Get out of town: There’s never a better time for a mini-trip than break. You don’t have to go too far, but maybe visit a nearby city you’ve been meaning to check out or visit a friend in their hometown. A change of scenery is always a good way to fight off the winter blues.

Frostbittenly yours,

The Snowman Tree

(Friendship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Honora Faix Handley, Allegheny  

Honora Headshot

When I was a sophomore at Allegheny College, one of my favorite traditions was getting together with my Kappa sisters and watching Frosty the Snowman when it aired on TV.  We would drink hot chocolate, write cards or do our homework and then go outside and sled down the snowy hillsides.

One year, I decided I should have a small Christmas tree to decorate my college dorm.  I found a fallen pine branch and decided to decorate it with paper snowmen.  Each year, I added to my collection.  Kappas I knew started giving me snowmen as gifts. Before I knew it I had a small collection.  I didnt have children at the time but decided that if and when I did, it would be my childrens tree. 

After business school in Philadelphia, I moved to Atlanta and joined the local alumnae association.  It was there that I formed some close, new friendships in a new city for me.  One of the events held annually is the Ornament Exchange. The concept is simple – bring a wrapped ornament, draw numbers, pick a wrapped ornament or steal an ornament that you prefer (with a rule that an ornament can only be stolen twice).  It became my favorite Kappa event since it gave me the opportunity to fundraise for the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation, but also allowed me to build my snowman collection with Kappas. Others were focused on the owls, the fleur-de-lis, the golden keys and shiny Santas.  Not me I was after the snowman!

Every year for the past 11 years, I would steal a snowman and add it to the tree.  I became known for stealing snowmen and people would bring one just for me. True to Kappa form, no one was ever upset.  I would write on the back which ornament exchange it came from and cherished each and every one.  There was a vintage Frosty, a cotton-stuffed one with button eyes, some pre-war blown glass snowmen made in Poland and Russia, and many more.  My snowman tree had truly become my Kappa tree.  I now have three young daughters and they get excited for the Ornament Exchange and wait with eager anticipation to see what snowman comes home each year. The leftover cookies are a plus too!

These memories are happy for me, but sadly, the snowman tree no longer exists.  Our home burned to the ground in a devastating, three alarm fire this past March.  While our immediate family was safe, everything was lost, including the entire snowman ornament collection.  As the holidays approach, we are becoming keenly aware that we have nothing to decorate. There are no more ornaments, no stockings or lights. 

Honora House

I was supposed to chair the Ornament Exchange again this year, but after the fire, I had to politely decline.  Everyone understood why.  I usually brought my champagne glasses, heirloom china tea cups, silver, linen napkins and other items to the hosts home to use for the Ornament Exchange.  That is all lost now.  It is difficult to articulate the devastation, sorrow, frustration and range of emotions one has after a total loss fire.  The holidays make the pain and realization of the loss worse. 

After the fire, Kappa sisters in Atlanta brought food, dishes and cups.  Some gave us clothes, toys and books for our girls. One Kappa even bought my daughtersEaster dresses.  Kappas from my own Gamma Rho chapter around the world sent items, one as far away as Australia.  As a family, we were very touched and moved at the outpouring of support from Kappa and we will remain eternally grateful.  My daughters all witnessed how my sisters did what they could to truly help us in our time of immediate need.  These three little girls saw the value of sisterhood and it was a wonderful life lesson for them – to help people when you can and to accept help when you need it. 

Now, once again, the Kappa Ornament Exchange is on the calendar.  My Kappa sisters in Atlanta have seen firsthand how much I loved the Ornament Exchange and have generously offered to help me rebuild the snowman tree at this years event.  The invitation sent out to the Atlanta Alumnae Association invited the Kappas attending to bring an extra ornament, a snowman, in order to help me rebuild my lost collection.  This simple, small gesture has so much significance and meaning to me that it brings tears to my eyes to write this.

It means we will have ornaments for a tree. It means that my girls will once again be excited to see snowmen from the Kappas.  It means some of the burden of putting on Christmas after the fire will be lifted.  It means building new, positive memories for our family that we will enjoy forever. 

It also means that this new snowman tree will truly always be a Kappa tree, built from the bonds of sisterhood and all of the values that KKG holds dear and true.   When our house is eventually rebuilt, and some of our belongings replaced, we plan to host the KKG Ornament Exchange and put the snowman tree on display for all to enjoy as a symbol of our sisterhood. 


Editor's note: On December 6, the Atlanta Alumnae Association held their annual Ornament Exchange. Below is a photo of Honora's new snowman tree, filled with ornaments from the event. "My family was thrilled to receive so many wonderful new snowmen," says Honora. "My children had such joy opening the gift bags and placing the new Kappa snowmen on the tree. They will now have new Christmas memories thanks to the Kappas."

The Snowman Tree

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