How to Deal with Bitter Cold!
Sometimes it seems like we are out of our minds living in the Midwest with its hot humid summers and bitter cold winters. Despite those weather extremes, the seasons are beautiful, flowers abound in the spring, and fall colors create a canvas reflecting the depth of creation.
Nearly completely landlocked, save a few lineal miles of shoreline on the north connected to Lake Michigan and the Ohio River to our south, our flatlands don’t support winter sports that can justify living in such a climate. What then is the draw you might ask?
As I write this, we are emerging from a Christmas weekend which was memorable in so many ways. On one bookend was the sudden death of the author of the greatest play in NFL history, Franco Harris, and the “Immaculate Reception.” Christmas Eve was a tribute to remember, as two Steeler Rookies teamed up to win another last-minute, come-behind game, against the same team Franco beat 50 years ago to the day from his incredible catch. That one was for you Franco, and THANK YOU, from a charter member of your Italian Army.
Here’s a bit of trivia that will catch most of you off guard. The “Immaculate Reception” game was not sold out, because the Steelers had been one of the league’s worst performers and the game was not televised in Pittsburgh. We were listening to it on the radio. My father did attend as he had two seats from his season ticket package. Each of the boys could pick two games per season to attend, but this was the first playoff game and Dad took a friend. Here is the unbelievable part. The ticket price……. $3.15 per seat.
The draw to Indiana is that we have something that can’t be manufactured or that sunshine, oceans, and mountains cannot replace nor compare. It’s called Hoosier Hospitality.
While the death of Franco was heavy on my heart, the other bookend was an arctic front bearing down on us delivering actual temperatures of -10 degrees Fahrenheit (before considering the wind chill), creating havoc. Grocery store lines were dozens deep as everyone was bracing for the apocalyptic event.
Just a couple of days before Christmas, one of our sons had invited his girlfriend over for the evening and the day before she was to visit, we were discussing what we should do to entertain them. We considered going on a drive to look at the Christmas lights, going to dinner, skating, etc. Nothing really appealed to us.
I finally said, “Why don’t we do an act of service instead of focusing on our pleasures, let’s focus on someone else instead.” Bingo, we all agreed. So, Ruth ran to the store and bought supplies to make four lasagnas, not knowing where they would go, but believing that they would go to the right people. As I returned home from work that evening and my son’s girlfriend had arrived, we tore the kitchen apart and began assembling the lasagnas.
Still not sure whose home they were destined for, Ruth posted on the “Buy Nothing Page” on Facebook that if anyone was struggling financially or had a special need tonight and needed dinner, we would drop off a homemade lasagna and some Texas toast to them. Immediately, the requests came in. One family found themselves stuck at the Emergency Department in the hospital with young kids at home that needed to be fed.
Another person’s husband was laid off and was suffering from bipolar disorder, a third didn’t have a working oven and they had been making it by eating fast food. The prospect and allure of a hot home-cooked lasagna drew them to request one. What a delight that evening was, with the four of us driving around delivering tangible answers to people’s prayers by choosing Hoosier Hospitality over self-gratification.
Christmas Eve was the coldest of the days. I woke to a text requesting help. Seems Jason, our Plant Manager’s furnace had failed that morning, and as I said previously, we woke to -10 degrees with a high of about -5 degrees projected for the day.
In his text, Jason said, “No one knows more people than you Jeff, I don’t know where to turn.” I immediately called my friend, Soup. Soup, a nickname for Jeff Campbell, knowing that a friend of mine was in trouble, dropped everything he was doing on Christmas Eve to secure a part locally that Jason needed. Between pictures, phone calls, and FaceTime, Jason was able to physically repair his furnace himself. Soup spent selfless time helping a complete stranger to see that he and his family would be safe and warm over Christmas. That is Hoosier Hospitality at its finest.
These are but two examples that are regular occurrences that we experience here in the Midwest states, the “Heartland” of America! The cold, heat, and humidity are powerless against the superpowers of this Hoosier Hospitality.
The cold days don’t last forever. They can last weeks at a time, but sometimes they are short-lived like this one. Today, we are seeing mid-teens, and by the end of the week, a promise of 60 degrees, unseasonably warm. The bitter colds we experience are no challenge for the warmth of the hearts of Hoosiers.
Our wish for you and your family this 2023 is that you will first look inward to see and recognize how blessed you truly are. Then, focus outward, look, and see the needs of others around you.
Don’t wait for others to reach out to them, take the initiative and be generous. You will never regret being generous.
The joy and blessings of helping others far surpass the feelings you get from receiving yet another gift.
Overlook what is troubling you, your bitter cold, and see if refocusing your sight outward, will lift you into a position of Gratitude, Fulfillment, and Warmth.
Happy New Year!