The nights are cold; the moon is bright; the world seems busy and broken, yet hopeful and connected all at the same time.

Winter, it is.

Of all the Christmas blockbusters in all the seasons before, this year's anticipated release of another Star Wars film arrives just in time to help SFR lead readers through the annual Winter Guide.

We haven't actually seen the movie yet, and like the shiny presents under the tree, the anticipation is probably better than the fulfillment will be. Not so for these pages.

Guide you, we will.

With skiers and boarders psyched about early-season snow and looking forward to deeper-than-normal bases, slide over to page 22 for everything you need to know about local ski conditions, including a report from a new contributing writer who knows the best places to hit the powder in the treelines and a look at how backcountry skiing is taking off.

Find stuff to do that does not involve either snow or Christmas with "An Agoraphobic's Guide to Winter"; get tips about what to eat to stay healthy through cold and flu season; and when all else fails, consult the spirits at one of our local haunts. Plus, explore why our moms (and some of our dads) think Han Solo is still hot, and find the perfect Darth Vader toaster gift.

This and more Star Wars references than one can shake a light saber at.

May the force be with you.

Illustrations by Anson Stevens-Bollen