A couple weeks ago, I went to the mall for the first time in nine months. It was a quick visit—I simply needed to exchange something I had ordered online—but I experienced all sorts of emotions. It was thrilling and strange and melancholy, all at once. And then it hit me: last year around this time, a friend and I loaded our little ones into their double strollers to shop some sales and enjoy a semi-leisurely lunch in the food court. We had no idea what was coming, and how much our lives would change in just a few short months.

Though we’ve lived with this pandemic for several months now, and recent vaccine news provides hope that the end is in sight, in some ways, I can’t help but feel like we still have no idea what’s coming. We’ve made it through the warm-weather seasons and become experts at outdoor gatherings, but winter—this is something new. The joy of Christmas and comfort of our holiday decor seem a stark contrast to the unknown that lies ahead.

This week, we’re beginning to explore the ways in which we can brave this pandemic winter, even with all its storms. I use “brave” there intentionally: we have all had to be brave in new ways this year, and no doubt, we’ll continue to learn that we are brave in ways we didn’t even know as the winter goes on.

One piece provides practical ideas for applying the Danish concept of hygge—the lifestyle that embodies coziness and contentment—to our friendships. Another piece will talk about the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or “free air life,” and provide a little inspiration to help you get outside, no matter the weather. A timely reflection on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince talks about friendship, hardship, and learning to approach life with wonder.

We’ll have plenty of Christmas cheer here, too, including a gift guide with our favorite gifts for $30 or less, and an edition of Verily Home that’s all about Christmas tree decorations (and Christmas tree alternatives).

We’re particularly excited to introduce a virtual Christmas cookie swap. Last week, our Verily Table members shared their favorites with the Verily Yours community, and we wanted to bring a few of them to the main Verily site, too. Watch for them every Monday in these next few weeks leading up to Christmas—we’ll be taking cookie recommendations in our daily email (submit your favorite recipe here!). And if you’re not already a Verily Yours member, you can start your free 30-day trial here.

Whatever you’re feeling right now, whether it’s the joy of the holiday season, the dread of winter, or maybe a little bit of both, remember what Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” And together, we can brave this pandemic winter.