As Sean Bean's character Eddard Stark said in Game of Thrones, "Winter is coming," and as this season rapidly approaches with no escape in sight, it's equally impossible to avoid the onslaught of adults lamenting the woes of winter. They cry out for their seasonal depression—also known under the appropriate acronym SAD for Seasonal Affective Disorder—when the supposed bleakness of winter arrives, or complain about how the frigid winds, iced roads, and few hours of light afford them few hours outdoors. The general view of winter is one of contempt and distaste for the most festive of holidays.

While those that take issue with winter have legitimate concerns, I tend to liken this attitude to that of Ebenezer Scrooge's hate of Christmas; it's a rejection of the season that you never really tried to appreciate. I might not show it since I've been conditioned as a teenager to hide the full extent of my emotions, but I experience a true joy when I see the first snowfall of the season or feel the temperature drop ten degrees. It's a sign that one of my favorite seasons—there's four of them—is on its way and ready to bring a busy year to its end with a peaceful solitude. The detriments that winter's detractors are apt to point out are what I view as its key strengths, cementing the time from late November through right before March as a pivotal portion of my year.

Do you take issue with the unpleasant cold? For one thing, this season is what jackets and winter clothing were made for, so just appreciate that you get to use that section of your wardrobe. Sure, the dark hours it means there's less hustle and bustle as everyone shies away from the outside, but that means there's more for me to enjoy. Less people means more peaceful walks and more gentle tranquility that stops me in my tracks to stare across an empty field of snow. Sure, that snow can fill your driveway and make commuting a pain, but hey, at least that provides a helluva workout and gives you more time to listen to your favorite morning playlist or podcast. And unlike some political figures, I get that I can't argue against science that declares seasonal depression a disorder, but it's not like having SAD means you perpetually have to be sad; there are treatment methods and procedures to take that can help overcome the condition. This means staying sad and chalking it up to seasonal depression is a choice and not a sign that winter is completely at fault for your sadness. Besides, while that melancholy itself is a kind of suffering, it lets you love the summer even more.

This is actually the crux of why winter is so important; it serves as a key contrast that makes other seasons and climates more meaningful to us. So many of us love the busy times and excitement of the summer, but without the benevolent desolation of winter, we wouldn't have this kind of love. We can only love the rise and regrowth of leaves in the spring after we've seen them fall and decay in the autumn. Even those who claim to abhor winter with a passion unconsciously appreciate its presence as it makes the summer all the more enjoyable. As Albert Camus said, "There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night." In order for us to love any season, any idea, any person, we must be able to appreciate a contrasting example for its differences and its hidden gifts as that solidifies our original passion. I don't just love the winter for the snowflakes offering up tiny yet plentiful kisses or the brisk winds challenging me to lift my spirits and walk with greater conviction, but also because its cold and darkness make the illuminating warmth of later seasons more meaningful to me.

Even if I couldn't escape to the summer, I'd still love the winter for the solace it provides me. For it is within this solitude that I can feel more connected with myself and reaffirm my inner thoughts and beliefs. This solitude can be lonely, yes, but it's a universal solitude that we all face and experience, and in that way none of us remain truly alone in our struggles. It's that common struggle that we face that allows us to get through the season and enjoy the more energetic times. That's why it's called win-ter and not lose-ter.