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I'm anything but frigid

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By Carolyn Risner

It’s Tuesday night as I write this and meteorologists have threatened that this will be a night that sees temperatures plummeting below freezing.

I am not concerned.

Growing up in abject poverty in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, I know what cold weather is.

It is not Levy County, Florida at its coldest.

My childhood home was a sprawling old house that had one coal heater in the middle of the living room to heat the entire house.

It failed miserably.

I remember that almost all events in the home took place around that heater in the winter as we strove to stay warm.

Early on, there was a coal cookstove in the kitchen that had a reservoir where my mother heated water that would be dipped into a wash pan so we could bathe.

Teeth chattering, my brother and I disrobed one article of clothing at a time, washed and then hurriedly put our clothes back on.

When I was 14, we got electric baseboard heat, but because the house was old and poorly insulated, nothing short of a raging fire could warm the entire house.

And because it sent the electric bill skyward, my father was adamant the heat didn’t get turned on until Nov. 1 no matter how cold it got in October.

It became tradition and in my early adult life, I carried it forward with my own family.

In the 1990s, I lived in my first house that had central heat and for the first time in my life, I was warm, really warm.

But by that time, it really didn’t matter. I was so accustomed to cooler temperatures that while everyone was donning parkas and thermal underwear, I just put a long-sleeved shirt over my tank top and voila, I was warm.

I still do that.

It’s been mighty nippy this past week, but I didn’t feel the chill. At home, I dragged out the sweat pants and flannel shirts. At work, I put on socks and real shoes instead of sandals.

Yes, it’s cold but not cold enough yet to put on a coat.

Tonight I gave in, and turned the heat on–but set the thermostat at 68 degrees.

It’s after Nov. 1, I told myself. The Roberts’ tradition remains intact.

But what I really know is that unlike my childhood years, these days I have options. I can choose to be cold or I can choose to be warm.

Once upon a time, there were no options.

It’s nice to know how far I’ve come in life, and that I still hold fast to the old family way.

Daddy would be proud this night or he might tell me to quit being foolish and exercise my option sooner.