I love this time of year: not just for the holiday lights and high spirits, but also for the first snowstorms of the season, when we're almost happy to see the ground blanketed in white.
I remember snow days as a child, spending hours sledding down our hill and trudging back to the top, lucky if we could get an occasional ride from our dad while he was plowing snow. We'd build forts and igloos, play snow tag and cross country ski, anything we could think of while we had the cushiony mat of fluffy snow beneath us.
What made it even more special was thinking about what we'd be doing if we were in school throughout the day: morning reading, lunch time, music, gym and the feeling that we were somehow getting away with something as the school day ticked on without us, thanks to a blast of Mother Nature.
These snow day workouts were some of the best we could get. Not only did the snow provide added resistance to our young muscles as we trodded through the inches, but the cold worked out our lungs and strengthened our resolve; we didn't want to miss a minute of the fleeting snow holiday.
Surely there are children today who look forward to getting outside and playing the snow, but there are likely just as many who would camp out in front of their video games for the day as the snow comes down outside.
But there is still joy in the winter weather - like bundled up Steelers fans toughing it out on a freezing Sunday night to cheer on their team in spite of dwindling playoff hopes; painted, wind-burned faces, under knit hats, proudly smiling for the television cameras.
There is growing anticipation for the upcoming Winter Olympics, our interest piquing with the colorful commercials promoting the exciting cold-weather games.
There are those who revel in the opening of Blue Knob for the ski season, their spirits jumping like happy puppies when they hear the word "walk."
And there are those brave (or maybe crazy) souls who take part in unique winter-time recreational fundraisers like the Hollidaysburg Y's Polar Burrr Plunge or Bedford's Run. Walk. Roll. to benefit the Heritage Trail Project; the weekend's wintery weather making a beautiful backdrop for the activities.
Undoubtedly the never ending shoveling and schedule-changing will begin to take its toll - by February or even sooner, we'll be tired of the stress of driving on ice and the inconvenience of canceled events. We'll be looking forward to signs of warmer days, like baseball's spring training and the Daytona 500.
But for now, we're still dreaming of a white Christmas, and enjoying all the childlike fun that the frightful weather outside can offer ... let it snow!
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.