I wanted to create a playlist that reflected the coolness of winter, but as it formed itself, bits of Christmas found their way into it, as well. Regardless of what you celebrate, I hope you enjoy this gentle playlist, as you sip some hot chocolate and bundle up for the coming months.

1. "Snowfields" by Folly and the Hunter

"Snowfields," while gentle and relaxing, contains a hidden message of struggle underneath its soft sound. They write, "My smallest joints live a sacrificial drama / My biggest flaws live on top of a mountain / These snowfields begin to burden me / I haven't seen my stronger side in weeks." These lyrics allude to the weight of pain or the weight of bearing a burden that seems too heavy to lift. It is paradoxical, in how snowfields may typically be seen as a force that is calming, but Folly and the Hunter create new imagery for it, in how this newfound force is now crushing. What once was calm, now comes with difficulty.

2. "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes' song, "White Winter Hymnal" tells a small tale of a brief childhood memory, either one of reality or fiction. The group sings, "I was following the pack, all swallowed in their coats / With scarves of red tied 'round their throats / To keep their little heads from falling in the snow, and I turned 'round and there you go." This hazy recollection fits well within the feeling of winter, as images of childhood winters creep their way into any listener's mind.

3."Sister Winter" by Sufjan Stevens

A personally beloved singer, Sufjan Stevens addresses winter has an ice-cold sister, from which his heart continually returns. The lyrics read, "Now my heart is / As cold as ice / All my friends, I've / Returned to sister winter / All my friends, I / Apologize, apologize." This constant return mirrors the imagery of seasons' change, paralleling with the ebb and flow of emotion and past memories.

4. "Winter Song" by The Head and the Heart

Similar to Sufjan's message of memory and season in "Sister Winter," The Head and the Heart tackle the loss felt in loving and leaving. They sing, "Oh, I'll miss the days we had / Loving, leaving, it's too late for this now / Such esteem for each has gone / Has time driven our season away?" This soft ballad tackles such loss with gentleness and openness.

5. "Christmas Lights" by Coldplay

Released a few years ago, Coldplay's "Christmas Lights" is both heartwarming and comforting for the present Christmas season. They sing, "Those Christmas lights light up the street / Down where the sea and city meet / May all your troubles soon be gone / Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on." Utilizing "Christmas lights" as a beacon of hope, Coldplay channels this metaphor to encapsulate the image of optimism for tomorrow.

6. "Old Pine" by Ben Howard

This song, as ones before, sings of memories of summer with fondness. Howard reminds us, "We stood / Steady as the stars in the woods / So happy-hearted / And the warmth rang true inside these bones / As the old pine fell we sang / Just to bless the morning." In the midst of the cold, this song brings warmth for days to come.

7. "The Earth Stood Still" by Future Of Forestry

A modern, and absolutely beautiful story of Mary and Jesus, Future of Forestry captures the emotion and power of the Christmas story. Eric Owyoung, the face behind the band, writes, "Lonely hearts strung across the land / They've been waiting long for a healing hand. / My heart was there and I felt the chill / Love came down and the earth stood still." With simplicity, this song brings power and truth, to shine into darkness.

8. "Faded From The Winter" by Iron & Wine

A lovely little song, "Faded From The Winter" tells the story of someone's beloved. Singer Sam Beam writes, "You're a poem of mystery / You're the prayer inside me / Spoken words like moonlight / You're the voice that I like." Whoever this is, has become such an integral part for the speaker, and they find their companion's presence within everything.

9. "Winter Seeds" by Freelance Whales

An impressive song about the wholeness of life, Freelance Whales write, "I don't want to make my case alone / For this lost race no / ...Overground and frozen in my shell / I can hold my breath well / Over time I will heirloom into / Something gnarled for you." This song brings depth to the simple phrase, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," in how humanity and earth will all return to the ground once again, one day.

10. "Snow" by Sleeping At Last

And lastly, "Snow" by Sleeping At Last gives hope to a broken world, as a sort of prayer. They sing, "The table is set and our glasses are full / Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole / We'll build new traditions in place of the old / 'cause life without revision will silence our souls." Through what has been shattered, wholeness can again be found.

I hope you find comfort and peace this winter, and this Christmas season.

Listen to the full playlist here!