Every year gets a little more complicated when it comes to gift-giving ideas. I try to put a little thought into my gifts, and I’m usually successful, but this year was a serious struggle. While talking with a girlfriend, she shared a childhood memory about the cold winters she experienced as a child. She grew up in New England, and if you are familiar with the northeastern part of the United States, you know that winters can be harsh.
Temps in New England range from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius to -25 or -30 degrees Celsius). My girlfriend’s parents were extremely frugal and that frugality extended to the use of their furnace during the early winter months. Their furnace was never fired up until Thanksgiving. It didn’t matter that the temps outside were 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). If you complained, you got a sweater and a cup of hot tea! My girlfriend said they referred to it as nipply, not nippy, but nipply; yes, the adjective for showing nipples. Nipply indeed!
My family was somewhat similar in that my mother would have the gas turned off to our home from March to December to save money. It didn’t matter in the summer because the desert heat warmed the cold water. However, it quickly became unpleasant in late fall and early winter because that meant no heat, freezing showers, and fast and easy meals that my mother could cook using electric appliances. I am confident that this was due more to her hatred of cooking than her desire to save money on heating.
The only person in my girlfriend’s family that got special treatment was her grandmother. She got an electric heating blanket, a long extension cord, and a heating pad. She would drape the heating blanket around her shoulders, and when plugged into the extension cord, it allowed her to walk anywhere in the house in warmth. She could use the heating pad on her feet to keep them warm when sitting. Don’t get me started on the fire and fall hazards of doing this, so let me add a disclaimer here that I don’t approve of or recommend anyone doing this anywhere under any circumstances.
That’s when it hit me—warmth would be what I would give—not just heartfelt, but actual heat. So my mother-in-law received a heating pad that covers her from neck to waist—without an extension cord. Lemon, my dog, got a doggie-approved heating pad for her bed, and my cat, Scarlett, got a cat-approved heating pad for her favorite spot on the sofa.
My husband is not a heating pad sorta man, not yet, at least. So, he got the man version of a heating pad—a portable firepit.
No one in my family will be nipply this winter.