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It can be hard to imagine what our lives were ever like without the explosion of technology that has taken over the “Englisch” world. How exactly do the Amish make it through the long winter evenings without television, smart phones and computers to get them through?
After the evening chores are done the family retreats to the home to sit down for supper. The cold winter weather keeps families indoors and often means there is more time spent chatting around the dinner table. They catch up on their long days of work and dedicate more time to sharing the word of the Lord with one another.
“More time is spent on devotions,” explained an Old Order Amish man and volunteer at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center who wished to remain anonymous.
Following dinner time discussions, the family may resort to the family room for games. Board games are very popular among the Amish, especially a particular game called “The Settlers of Catan,” explained the Amish man. The object of the game is to earn the most points by creating settlements and cities on the island of Catan. The game board is layed out in hexagon-shaped pieces that are layed out differently each time the game is played.
Sometimes neighbors will join in on the fun and games can be played well into the night. The Amish man explained the game has become so popular that special tables were designed to hold the pieces.
The winter month’s are a great time to catch up on reading, explained Lester Beachy, an Amish writer and volunteer at the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center. “I do a lot of reading in the winter.”
“The role of libraries in Amish communities is huge,” said the Old Order Amish man. “We go to the library once a week and bring home a couple of bags of books. The children pick through what they are interested in.” He also explained that the Walnut Creek library typically has a very long waiting list and has the highest number of requests in the area.
Letter writing is also common practice among the Amish. The convenience of texting and emails are not present here - just a good old fashion pen and paper. The women may gather together for quilting and sewing circles. Rubber stamping is also very popular. Neighbors get together to make Christmas cards and prepare birthday, sympathy and holiday cards for the coming year.
Winter time is a great time to catch up with neighbors. “We’re more likely to invite others over for dinner during the winter and share a potluck meal,” said the Old Order Amish man. It’s the perfect time to catch up with old friends and exchange hobbies and interests.
Games of shuffleboard and cornhole are also popular among the Amish and played with neighbors and friends.
“We have an older neighbor who we just go to visit and sit and talk with her. She is just glad for the company,” he added.
On nicer evenings, when Winter’s cold is not biting as hard, the children may retreat to the local pond for ice skating and the adults may go for an evening walk.
Whether playing board games, writing letters to friends or just sitting silently and reading, you can bet there will be some snacking involved, especially popcorn. “Popcorn is a huge part of the Amish diet,” joked the Amish man. Homemade grape juice made from the years harvest is also very popular.
Just gathering around the fire and enjoying one another’s company is enough for most Amish families. Maybe we could take a lesson or two from their simple ways of living.
It is true that many people have lost the fun of family as we used to know it however, don’t think for a moment that this sort of life is simple. If you think so try it sometime. :)