Thanksgiving Heat

When the sun dropped behind trees west of my home, gray shadows grew long and deep inside the house. Currents of damp, chilled air slowly drifted past where I sat alone at the dining room table. I shivered and pulled the light jacket I was wearing closer to my body. Three things evoke loneliness in my mind; sitting in a cold, dimly-lit, room at a large, empty table.

Instead of turning on the furnace, I checked the room temperature. It wasn’t cold enough to induce me to turn it on. Feeling irritated with myself, I stepped into the nearby living room, turned on a lamp and sank down onto the sofa where I pulled a fluffy blanket over my shoulders.

My husband Arnie and I had been married 37 years when he unexpectedly died. I laughed when he had occasionally told me I was stubborn. I figured he was just teasing. Now, years later as I sat under a blanket in a lamp-lit living room, I took stock of my personality. Grimly nodding, I spoke to the spirit of my husband, “You were so right about me being stubborn, Arnie!”

Each year as fall nights become cold, I try to hold back from turning on the furnace until the house temperature gets down to 56 degrees. Do I do this to save money? To save wear-and-tear on the furnace? To set a record? I have no idea.

I’ve always been silly about how and when to use heaters and air conditioners. When air conditioners became common in motor vehicles, I remember saying, “Cars don’t need air conditioners!” When Arnie and I finally bought a vehicle equipped with one, I thought we wouldn’t use it much.

Coming to love this new feature took only a few minutes. I returned to my car after spending a long, hot summer day at work. The steering wheel burned my hands. Sweat rolled off my face as hot asphalt parking lot air pressed in through the open windows. After only two minutes of running the cold air, my discomfort was relieved. I was sold! Mostly.

One muggy evening later that summer, Arnie and I went for a drive. I said, “It isn’t very hot today, just muggy. I’m turning the air conditioner off.” A few minutes later I realized what air conditioners do besides making the air cool. They remove the sticky, unpleasant moisture. Glancing at Arnie as I flipped the switch on, I said, “You know, I think it feels better to have this running.” My long-suffering husband just nodded.

This spring I had my wood pellet furnace and my oil furnace removed from the basement and had a gas furnace installed. My reluctance to turn it on this fall may have been partly due to my anxiety over what to expect. I’d been told LP gas furnaces provide a chilly heat. This was confusing for me. After all, isn’t heat…heat?

In the past, once I gave in and turned on the oil furnace, I ran it until the temperatures outside dropped down to 20 degrees and lower. Then I’d fire-up the wood pellet furnace. The transition always happened a week or two before Thanksgiving. My house was always very warm, since the pellet furnace heated not only the house, but the basement. The slowly roasting holiday turkeys also contributed to the heat. At times my house became uncomfortably hot!

Thanksgiving at my house wouldn’t be quite right if I didn’t have a CD playing Perry Como singing, ‘Dear Hearts and Gentle People’, ‘May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You’, ‘Bless This House’ and ‘Ave Maria’.

As I recently went through my CD collection looking for the ones I wanted, I realized that the colder it became outdoors, the more the new furnace ran and made the house feel warmer.

Last year my daughter Tami wrote what each member of the family was grateful for on decorative leaves we hung as a garland. This year I found a wreath of Thanksgiving leaves to do that again. I know that I want my leaf to say, “I’m grateful for my brightly lit, warm house filled with family.” #Thanksgiving heat


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