“Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death.”

Today is warm; it’s 56°. That’s not winter the way it should be with Christmas only three weeks away. I remember walking to school this time of year bundled against the wind and the cold. My head was covered; my legs were encased in snow pants under my skirt and my fingers were barely warm inside my mittens. A scarf  kept my face from the worst of the wind, but the walk to school was always a cold one. It was actually a relief to arrive at school and hear the hiss of radiators as we stood in the cloakroom and shed our outer skins.

At the foot of my bed was a radiator. Above it was a window. The window was never very good at keeping out the cold nor was the radiator much better at keeping my room warm. Often, on a freezing winter morning, the inside bottom panes of the glass were covered with frost. I remember taking my fingernail and using it to write my name across the frost. We wore flannel pajamas to bed and always had slipper socks to keep our feet warm on the cold floors. I still wear slipper socks. I like the sound the soles make on the floor, that scuffing sound. Every Christmas we always got a new pair. Back then the slipper socks were all grey with brown leather soles. Now they come in every color.

We used to run to be the first to turn on the window lights. You had to turn the bulb as there was no switch. Back then our living room was the only one with window lights. My favorite was the one with five bulbs which always went in the picture window. The bases of all the lights were plastic, and when the bulbs were added, they sometimes got top-heavy. My father used to tape the bases to the window sill so the lights wouldn’t fall off. Sometimes they did anyway and the bulbs would shatter. I remember the small pieces of an orange bulb all over the floor.

Each night one of us had to crawl under the tree to the outlet to plug in the main cord to the lights. I remember there were lots of cords attached to one another, but we never had a problem with the cords or the fuses. I do remember a few times when the tree fell. It always fell slowly loaded down as it was with lights and ornaments. My dad would lift up the tree, one of us would hold it by the trunk, and he’d lie down on his stomach to tighten the screws in the base. That didn’t always work and the tree would sometimes fall again. My dad’s solution was always a hammer, some wire and some nails, never a bigger tree stand. I think he enjoyed the challenge.

Explore posts in the same categories: Musings

Tags: , , ,

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

17 Comments on ““Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Quite the opposite here today, rather chilly and lots of snow! None of the weather sites mentioned anything about sno so I did actually get surprised when i saw that white garbage outside my windows 🙂

    The only time our tree fell was when one of the cats decided it would be great to climb in it 🙂 🙂 Our tree stand was made of heavy iron so it did need a heavy cat to bring the tree down 🙂 But we usually just turned on of the bulbs to put out the lights, that is till my mother read that the tree could start burning if one did like that. After that she always placed the tree so that it was easy to unplug the electricity.

    But I don’t understand that window lights You write about. Was it bulbs all around the window?

    Have a great day!

    • Caryn Says:

      Christer, the window lights look like your electric Advent candles. They were cream colored plastic with 7 “candlesticks” and Christmas light bulbs got screwed into the tops to make the candle flame.

    • katry Says:

      They say the really cold, freezing weather will be here by the end of the week.

      I had a tree climbing cat. It was quite the shock to see her staring at me from the middle of the tree. The only time my tree fell was one day while I working. I don’t know why it fell, bit it was bad with all sorts of pieces of glass ornaments all around the floor.

      I see Caryn descrobed the window lights for you.

    • J.M. Heinrichs Says:

      An earlier one:


    • katry Says:

      Thank you, my dear Hedley.

      I hadn’t seen that one, but I’ve been a Monty Python fan since the 60’s when the PBS channel in Boston started showing their program.

      • Hedley Says:

        This one is a little odd in as much as it features Marty Feldman who was not part of the Python cast. Feldman was to achieve fame in Young Frankenstein as Igor (with the moving hump).
        However Feldman, who was a brilliant writer, think Round the Horne was credited with being a co-writer of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch

  2. Hedley Says:

    Didnt do a very good job trying to embed (see above) , but it does link in very nicely to the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, which always comes to mind when describing the spartan (MSU) conditions of ones up bringing.

    So “Top of house didnt have heat ‘cept one electric pull bar-heater on wall, coke burning furnace twas in kitchen and coal fire in living room…….LUXURY !, we were lucky to have roof over head”

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      It’s a simple click to see the sketch. I enjoyed both of them, but I doubt I could cinjure stories even close to their privation tales.

      It gave me a chuckle!

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    Like Christer we were constantly pulling either kitten or cat from the tree growing up. The kids, of course, saw it very humorous, the cat hated being found and worse being pulled by the short hairs by my Dad. My Mother would always say no more trees, “either you kids keep your cats and no tree or the cats have to go!” Of course we got both but no Christmas went by without putting boards around the tree at night. That was just as funny.

    • katry Says:

      I’ve been lucky as most of my cats prefer the heat of the lights and sleep on the tree skirt.

      Your cats had no jumping off spots to avoid the boards? I picture your cat hanging on the brabches for dear life as the tree wobbles from side to side.

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    We had the plastic window lights, too. My mother put them in all the downstairs windows and the porch. She had to tape them all to the sills. We also had the overburdened electrical outlet and the fuses. This is why A Christmas Story is so funny to folks of a certain age. 🙂
    Our tree never fell over even with various cats trying to climb it and Leroy the Peke trying to eat the decorations from below.
    I recall the year I was in 7th grade and brought home one of the lab rats to care for over the holidays. The teacher asked us on the last Friday before vacation so none of us could ask our parents for permission. My parents were not pleased that I volunteered but they got over it. The lab rat turned out to be very pregnant and had her babies within a day or so. By Christmas the babies were furry and able to get around quite well. I remember letting them play under the Christmas tree. Somewhere there are photos of Mama Rat and her seven Christmas babies on the tree skirt with glitter and tinsel and an ornament or two that had been harvested by the dog. They looked quite at home.

    Enjoy the non-traditional weather. I saw a plum tree with new leaves today.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      You’re right about A Christmas Story though I don’t think ours was ever that bad.

      Years later, I found the old plastic ones in my mother’s cellar. Some tape was still on a few of them, and it had turned yellow and stiff. The memory of all those years of taping jumped right into my head and made me chuckle.

      I’m not sure the rats would have done well. My mother wouldn’t have been at all thrilled. We always had pets but they were the standard dogs and cats though once, when I was in high school, I had hamsters. I have no idea why I had them, but they didn’t last long.They got loose and the cat found one and the other bit into a wire and was electocuted.

      Don’t get too comfortable-cold weather’s coming by the endof the week.

  5. bob fearnley Says:

    Forgot about the radiators. On the coldest mornings, my mom would put our shirts/blouses on the radiators so they would be warm when we jumped out of bed to dress for school. Good memory. Thanks

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: