Keep Warm 2023

Keep Yourself Warm

Eight Must-Haves to Survive This Stupid Season

Get Warmth, Give Warmth

Because Everyone Deserves a Shower and a Cup of Hot Coffee

Meet Your Maker: Joe Norris of Hot Jawn

Get to Know Local Creators Making Gift-Worthy Goods

How to Make a Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Kamper Cocktail

From Marceil Van Camp at Kamp Social House

Meet Your Maker: Colleen Echohawk

Get to Know Local Creators Making Gift-Worthy Goods

Where to Find The Stranger in Print

Looking for a Copy of Keep Warm, Your Essential Winter Holiday Guide? You Can Pick One Up from the Following Locations!

Comfort Zone

The Coziest Bars, Restaurants, and Coffee Shops in Seattle

Survival of the Grodiest

How Well Local Wildlife Will Keep You Warm, Tauntaun Style

Keep Warm 2023

How to Survive a Seattle Winter

How to Survive SAD

Real Tips from a Mental Health Expert

Meet Your Maker: Jessica Lynch

Get to Know Local Creators Making Gift-Worthy Goods

Meet Your Maker: Renny Cobain

Get to Know Local Creators Making Gift-Worthy Goods

Winter Events

Holiday Shows! Shimmering Light Displays! Fireworks! And (Ugh) SantaCon.

Seattle winter settles in like a drunk uncle. For months the days are idyllic and warm, and then—boom—there he is. Without warning he’s in your house, kicking off his shoes, sucking up all the air in the room, and demanding that you rearrange your life to accommodate his heavy needs. It’s lights out. We’re the screaming birds, Seattle is the cage, and winter is the blanket an angry god throws over us to shut us up.

When it comes to Pacific Northwest winter survival tips, many people will recommend purely practical things like sun lamps, physical exercise, fresh vegetables, and Vitamin D (so many new Seattleites literally overdose on this stuff so be careful!). And I endorse these things! But this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s also a really dumb marathon, where every few weeks you’ll find something else that hasn’t totally dried out from the endless drizzle and you’ll want to pack up and move. To combat that you need more than gear or supplements. You need hope.

These are some things that give me hope from November to May. Maybe they’ll work for you, too.


Vibram soles on your shoes

Fucking do it. Moss grows everywhere in our city. As our tenuous hold on reality gets slipperier, with our white knuckles slackening under the relentless gray sameness, make sure that at least your shoes can get a grip. Any cobbler will do it. I’ve even done it on heels. 


A jacket that is nominally water resistant but mostly just makes you happy

I didn’t own a rain jacket in Seattle for nine years, and I barely wear the long Topo Designs one I bought. It’s nice I guess, but it’s a black column of a thing, and when I wear it I feel anonymous. I feel blank, like a palimpsest scraped clean for ad copy. A couple years ago my ex came home and pulled a big brown bundle from a Goodwill bag. “This seemed like something you would like,” he said as he held it up for my inspection. It was a leather jacket—a duster. It has big, wide, ‘70s lapels and tawny contrast stitching with woven leather buttons along a sharply tapered waist that leads into a big flare and stops right above the knees. When I wear it I feel like Dick Tracy cosplaying as Carmen Sandiego. I feel stylish, even when I put it on over my Steely Dan sweatpants to go to the Red Apple. It keeps the water off. I mean, it stays a little damp, but what doesn’t come January? A jacket that makes you feel like yourself and kind of sort of keeps you comfortable in this weather is way more helpful than something that’s purely functional but reduces you to a pile of meat to be kept dry.


Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

Winter in Seattle always starts out a little dreamy. It kicks off when you needed the break, when you needed the excuse to stay in after 6 pm, to hold a mug with both hands like a lady in an arthritis medication commercial, to stare out the window at the slick sparkling streets and get nostalgic for things you don’t even necessarily miss. If that feeling, that leaden peace, could be captured and saved for when you really need it (February), it’s in Van Booy’s Love Begins In Winter. A bunch of short stories about people falling in love and meditations on how that feels, what that means, how that gets its grubby, needy little fingers into us when we least expect it, it’s antidotal to the late-winter cynicism we all fall prey to.


Fancy hand lotion

People are always like, “But it’s so humid here!” Well good for you, but my hands dry up like all the plants I always forget to water even though I stare at them every day and am like “I need to water you” and then I am like “...but the pitcher is so far” and then I get confused when they die. 

I splurge on Aesop sometimes and keep it in my purse to dole out in the tiniest possible dollops over the winter, huffing the scent, rubbing it into my hands like I’m anointing myself as something sacred—the girl who lived through winter one more time even though it was so chilly.


Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight

At a Frightened Rabbit show in 2009 in Colorado, lead singer Scott Hutchison spotted a dad holding an 8-year-old kid on his shoulders right after he had announced in his sweaty Scottish brogue that the next song was about sex and depression. He asked the dad how old his son was, and when the dad yelled the kid’s age back, Hutchison laughed and replied, “You’re never too young to learn!” then launched into “Keep Yourself Warm,” a song from The Midnight Organ Fight about how fucking a bunch of people doesn’t heal a broken heart, and includes the all-time lyric, “You can’t find love in a hole.”

After Hutchison died in 2018, at the end of a long winter, I felt my way back through this album that I’ve loved for so long. It’s upbeat songs about despair, it’s distilled hope without any optimism to back it up. It’s loving without encouragement, screaming to be heard, touching the stove to remind yourself that you’re here and you have every right to be here even if you’re a bummer. It’s a record that relishes the grossest and most embarrassing parts of being alive—needing people, missing people, loving people, losing people.


Unfulfilled longing

This is endurance training. This is finding pleasure in the pain. This is emotional edging. People who experience sun during the winter do not understand how conceptual sunshine becomes to folks in the Pacific Northwest. You can turn away from this, the darkness that will be your life for the next several months, or you can learn to yearn.

Yearn for everything. Yearn for swimming in the lake, yearn for feeling warmth on your skin, in your bones, all the way through your body. Yearn for who you used to be, for friends you haven’t seen in years, for lovers you’ve lost. Yearn for a murky future that you can’t control and for a heavily edited past that you’ll never remember with any accuracy.

Long, my frigid winter babies. Long for everything, expect nothing. Go against every Buddhist teaching and desire so much, and then go Ram Dass on that shit and detach from needing fulfillment. Find yourself in your sweetest aches, stick your hand in the gaping maw of your own untenable fantasies, and hold it there. This is how you stay soft in the icy heart of winter. If you can do that, you might end up even liking this season. 


Text them. Call them. Make plans with them. Regularly. Fall in love with them. Trust them. Be kind to them. Let them in. We’re the warmest things we have until the spring.

A bouquet of dried flowers from Pike Place Market

Dried bouquets last forever and they’re pretty. And don’t you deserve something pretty to look at that won’t die on you?