I tell my grandkids it was a lot colder in the 'old days'. I told my kids that too, back when they were just about young enough to believe it. Heck, my dad told me the same thing, too. But upon further reflection, maybe it wasn't all that colder. Maybe it was just that we weren't insulated as well.

It was a small farmhouse, the one that I grew up in. And while in my memory I like to think of it as ramshackle, the truth is it was possibly a little more rundown than my memory allows. The people who bought the old place after my mom and dad moved off...well, they tore that thing down.

But it was home, and a good home to boot.

We were the only place on that stretch of gravel road. And now, well more than a half-century later, whenever that temperature falls along with the snow, I'm warmly reminded of three things: that farmhouse, a kerosene lantern, and a deck of cards.

The electricity seemed to go off quite a bit in those days. Oh, I'm not complainin', I'm sure the electricity folks did the best they could, but when you got them wires strung on those poles and the wind starts blowin' and the snow starts fallin' and the ice starts clingin'...well, let's just say dark came early on some of those long-ago days.

So dad would make sure the big 'ol oil burner in the living room was good and warm (the linoleum floor got get downright chilly), put an extra piece or two of wood in the stove in the kitchen and reach up up the shelf and get the kerosene lantern down.

Once the chores were done (are the lights on yet? Nope) that lantern would set on the metal kitchen table and we'd break out the playing cards.

Rummy. That was the game of choice for the most part as I remember. Hand after hand after hand. And maybe what warmed us most was the conversation. What was that conversation about? I don't remember. Doesn't matter. Memories tend to bend to the warm side and whatever it was, it was good and warm.

Oh, and the lights? They might come on later that night, but most likely sometime tomorrow or the next day. As long as the water pipes didn't freeze in the hog house, it was all good.

And in my memory, it was more than good. Way more.

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