Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to turn up the heat in fall and your father said, “Not until November 1. That’s when landlords turn on the heat.”
No? You don’t recall that? You mean my dad was the only one who said that?
I recall that transitional time between mid-September and October 31 when the temperatures would gradually fall and the house felt like an icebox. One by one my three sisters and I would approach my dad and tell him we were freezing. First, he would tell us that apartment building landlords wouldn’t turn up the heat until November 1, and then he’d tell us to put on a sweater.
“But we don’t live in an apartment building, Dad; we live in a private house.” We were whistling into the wind. No heat until November 1.
“Um, Dad, I think I have ice crystals on my eyelashes.”
“Nice try. November 1!” Of course, November 1 was also my birthday, so I liked to think that my present would be the gift of warmth. Complaining about the heat, or lack of, became a tradition my sisters and I performed each fall with our dad. Ah, the fun we had as we shivered. But, truth be told, I loved the cozy feeling of snuggling up under a blanket with my sisters in our pajamas as the whole family watched television at night; but we weren’t going to let Dad know that.
Fast forward twenty years and I was married. Suddenly with one child, my own home and monthly bills, I began to understand my dad’s autumnal chants of, “No heat until November 1.”
As a child, my husband, Ken, and his family lived in the first floor apartment of his grandparents’ home. His grandparents were very generous with the heat, so Ken always enjoyed being warm and comfortable. Early in our marriage, he often complained that our house was too cold. My response? “Put on a sweater.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he had to wait until November 1 for some heat. That was a family joke I was sure he wouldn’t understand or appreciate.
When we moved into our second home, Ken insisted on keeping all the rooms heated just to see what it would cost us on a monthly basis. Our new home was all electric and three times the size of our first home. Ken quickly learned to turn down the thermostat when our first electric bill was way more than he had anticipated. It was a “chilling” lesson.
I enjoyed writing this column and loved the “warm” thoughts as I traveled down memory lane. Thanks Dad for the “fall fun” and the heating lesson. We certainly all survived, and the family warmth and love made up for the lack of heat. Dad is no longer with us, and my sisters and I never did let on that we knew he didn’t wait until November 1 to turn up the heat. And Ken, hold on just a bit longer…it’s almost November 1.