My parents have come to spend the holidays with us. The kids are thrilled, of course. And it’s not just because they love their grandparents so much, although they do. And it’s not because my mother showers them with exotic chocolate, which she does (and they love). And it’s not because my parents will take us out for dinner, which they will (we take the kids out once a year, so it’s a big deal for them). One of the biggest thrills for the kids when my parents visit is that I turn up the thermostat. My mom has cold intolerance, so I can no longer keep the heater set at 62. Instead, it’s set at 68. From the kids’ responses, you’d think they were in Hawaii. No longer do I hear things like, “Hmm, guess I’m going to have to go outside to warm up.” No longer do I see children walking around the house in snowcoats. And no longer does Ariel point out to me that she’s wearing flannel pajama pants under her jeans. In self-defense, I must say that normally I crank the fireplace from the time we get up to the time we go to bed. And by afternoon the living room is a balmy 72 degrees. I’ve pointed this out to the children, but they sneer and tell me it doesn’t matter how warm the living room is because the heat never penetrates the Ice Pit. (I will admit that once I actually saw my breath in the Ice Pit, but I haven’t told the kids that.)
What is the Ice Pit? It’s the name the children have given to Calvin’s and my bedroom. Why do they even care you ask? Because the television and the Wii are in our bedroom, so the kids can’t play a game or watch a movie without descending into "arctic chill" of the Ice Pit. And why is the room so horribly cold? Well, that is a combination of many factors beyond the setting of the thermostat. Our room is hidden from sunlight by a massive 100 year old Southern magnolia tree, which the kids despise since it’s always dropping something on the lawn that they have to clean up (flowers in the spring, pods in the summer, and leaves in the fall). The other heat challenge to the Ice Pit is that whoever was the heating engineer for the house obviously got his degree from an Internet-fake-yourself-a-degree web site. And thus, with that superior education only designed one heating zone for the entire house. Consequently, balmy in the living room means the Pit is never heated.
I’ve told the kids that the room isn’t so bad; after all, I sleep in it every night. “Yeah,” Ariel said, “and do you notice that you wear an undershirt, flannel pajamas and wool socks and you sleep on flannel sheets, under two blankets, and with a down comforter over the top. Plus, I’ve heard Dad complain that he ends up sleeping on the edge of bed because you scoot over to his warmth during the night.”
Okay, so maybe the Ice Pit is a little cold, and maybe their little fingers ice over when they play Wii, but last month our gas bill was $40 instead of $120! I can buy a lot of blankets for the Ice Pit with that. Plus, spring’s right around the corner—there’s only 3 months of winter left to go.