Here, presented as an annual public service, are 50 personally endorsed ways to stay warm during these wintry days - and nights:
1. Think about the presidential campaign, especially your least favorite candidates and what outrageous things they've just said. Don't omit Bill Clinton, who's not formally a candidate but may be the most active of the bunch. For a really heated reaction, imagine what the Mrs. must think but dares not say every time he starts another fight he can't win with Barack Obama.
2. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
3. Fireplaces. (Get that back log just right.) Enjoy the inevitable, heated argument over how to arrange the logs, kindling and accoutrements. My mother-in-law once told me that there are three things every man believes he can do better than any other man; the other two are how to drive and how to build a fire.
4. Popcorn. Or parched peanuts. Pretend you're at a ballgame on a sultry summer night in the spring, under the lights, complete with hot dogs. The home team is behind 3 to 2 in the bottom of the ninth, two out and two men on.
5. A hot bath.
6. Warm thoughts of those you love.
7. Take advantage of any snow. Shovel off the sidewalk. Build a snowman. Maybe a whole snow family.
8. Pillow fights. (Recommended for all ages. Relieves aggression and other symptoms of cabin fever.)
9. A mother's hug. (Good in any season.)
10. Toddies all around.
12. Soup. Chicken soup with rice, followed by vegetable with beef. The thicker the better. Also recommended: lentil.
13. A game of checkers. Chess only when played with a time limit; slow moves freeze the joints.
14. A no-holds-barred, fines-go-to-those-who-land-on-No-Parking, double-rent-on-Boardwalk-and-Park-Place, house-moving, property-stealing, joint-monopolies-allowed, lots-of-shouting-and-muttering, loans-from-bank-and-other-players-encouraged, some-small-thefts-permitted, rent-dodging, all-around cut-throat game of Monopoly. All weapons checked at the door.
15. Old movies set in tropical climes, in which the men wear pith helmets and the women sarongs, with Bette Davis and George Brent always mopping their brows. Start with "The Letter." Avoid "Dr. Zhivago" and "Nanook of the North."
16. Novels that cover three or four generations. Or try Douglas Southall Freeman's unabridged, four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee. Or Walker Percy's essays, collected some time ago in "Sign Posts in a Strange Land." Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" may be best of all. Wrap yourself warmly while reading, and nod off sometime during his description of the customs and mores of the Germanic tribes on the Roman Empire's ever shrinking borders. His history may tend to run on, but his English is a joy.
17. Write a hot letter to the editor.
18. Save a winter weather report to read in August. It'll sound delightful.
19. Chop wood. (Particularly good for working out emotional problems, and much cheaper than psychoanalysis.) Second choice: a punching bag.
20. Hot lemonade.
21. Exercise - indoors.
22. Chinese food, Szechwan variety. Go for the red stars on the menu.
23. Five-alarm chili. Easy on the Fritos, lettuce and cheese; heavy on the meat, sauce and chili peppers. There are those who put the Fritos on top and those who put 'em, inexplicably, on the bottom. And never the twain shall meet.
24. Extra covers, preferably country quilts.
25. An electric blanket.
26. Nightcaps. Both varieties.
27. Try the sauna.
28. Rock 'n' roll.
29. Square dancing.
30. Ravel's "Bolero." To quote the composer himself, it may not be music, but it's magnificent. If it doesn't warm your blood, report to the morgue.
31. Some foot-stompin', knee-slappin' country fiddlin'.
32. See "South Pacific." Or check out Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Or maybe Kathleen Turner and William Hurt in "Body Heat." Or any movie set in New Orleans.
33. A goose down comforter.
34. Dixieland jazz, not the cool kind.
35. Exercise the mind; turn off the teevee. (Which is a good idea for any time of the year.)
36. Think of FEMA. Or the Internal Revenue Service. If that doesn't get your ire up, nothing will.
37. See if you can still do 100 push-ups. Breaks for hot tea and general resuscitation allowed.
38. Sweaters. Galoshes. Gloves. Parkas. Layers in general. Everything your mother told you to wear and then some.
41. Piping hot oatmeal.
42. Hot chocolate. Don't forget the marshmallows.
43. Toasted marshmallows.
44. Bathroom heaters.
45. Tea. Or black coffee with a soupcon of bourbon. Irish coffee, but for goodness' sake forget the whipped cream. It gets in the way of the Jameson's, or whichever brand of Irish you prefer.
46. Scarves. Woolen ones with a fringe.
47. Balaclavas, not to be confused with baklavah - which wouldn't hurt, either.
48. Footsie pajamas.
49. Bring the pets indoors. Make it a three-dog night.
50. Watch "Animal Crackers." It may not make you any warmer, but the Marx Brothers will make you feel better.
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