cold hands, warm hearts

We had a our first snowfall of the season last night. It didn’t amount to much accumulation, but it did make the roads treacherous, especially once darkness fell. This morning, though, it looked pretty.

Phoebe and Theo were eager to go out and play in the snow. Phoebe still had to catch school bus, but I told them that if they were really fast getting ready and eating breakfast, they could play outside. They were remarkably fast (even though Theo tried to convince me that he’d be faster finishing breakfast if he didn’t have to eat any food), and I got their warm weather gear sorted out with unexpected speed as well.

I still had to get their lunches packed up, so I sent them outside to the yard without me. When I came out a bit later, this is what I encountered:

They had worked together, they were still working together, to build a snowman. They were discussing what they would use to make the face and other details, and, here’s the part that gets me, they weren’t bickering. My heart just about melted right there.

Theo at work.

Phoebe and Theo with the finished product. (Theo picked a leaf for a nose that reminded him of a carrot.)

I had helped a bit with getting a few of the items to stick into the snowman, since I didn’t want them taking off their mittens. My hands got cold quickly. Even after I put my own gloves on, my hands stayed cold. Waiting around the few more minutes for the bus, I got colder in the wind and sleet, in spite of my warm coat, boots, hat and gloves.

Phoebe got on the bus, and I drove Theo to preschool and came back home. My hands were still icy. I made some hot tea and warmed my hands on the mug and enjoyed the warmth of our house.

And I just couldn’t stop thinking about the people who were hit so hard by Hurricane Sandy, such a short distance from me. All those people without electricity, many without heat or the ability to cook food in their homes. Many without homes.

I thought of them in the dark and the wind and the wet and thought how much some of them must really, at that moment, just want to be warm.

I checked out the Occupy Sandy gift registry again, and tracked down more information from the group. They have a website with daily updates of their actions and needs. Here is today’s list of of their current needs:

Current Needs – Blankets Candles Flashlights Lights Water Food Batteries Diapers and Wipes Gloves and Masks Rubber boots Shovels Cleaning supplies and bleach Trash bags Serving dishes and utensils Anything that produces heatWinter wear (jackets, hats, gloves, warm stuff)

So much need. The need for shovels and trashbags and cleaning supplies is a reminder of how much work there is to be done. The need for diapers highlights to me how there must be many families with small children, dealing with darkness and cold and wetness and inadequate food and water sources, and the uncertainty of how long this will go on.

I placed an order from the registry for batteries and diapers and handwarmers. It warmed me a bit to know I might be helping someone else get warmth, light and comfort. The delivery likely won’t get there until Monday, and at least the forecast for the weekend is warmer, but I fear the need will continue through next week. Maybe longer. (How much longer?)

I also checked out the Occupy Sandy Relief NYC Facebook page, where they have been posting frequent updates. It warmed my heart to see their activity, calling for volunteers to help with specific tasks, like delivering hot meals that someone had donated to homebound senior citizens in the Rockaways.

I am so moved by the work that they are doing. So many have seen the need, and stepped up. I love it that members of the Occupy movement have taken their organizational expertise and networking skills and applied it to this crisis. And they are working like crazy, demonstrating their remarkable resolve and generosity of spirit.¹

I’d like to say thank you to all of you who are helping in the storm relief. May your hands stay as warm as your hearts.

The jack-o-lanterns are in disguise. They have neither hands nor hearts, but they are cold.²

¹ I think back to the angry right-wing types who characterized the Occupy protesters as lazy and greedy, and wonder if they will eat their words. I doubt it, though. They’re too busy demonizing someone else.

² The old saying, “cold hands, warm heart,” came up a lot in my family when I was growing up, as my mother, my sister and I have perennially cold hands. (What, do people with warm hands have cold hearts?) I’m a bit too lazy to track down the origins of the expression, but here’s what one website says:

COLD HANDS, WARM HEART – “A reserved, cool exterior may disguise a kind heart. The proverb has been traced back to ‘Collectanea by V.S. Lean. First cited in the United States in ‘Blue Murder’ by E. Snell.” From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

I also came across an interesting behavioral study showing that people are more likely to be generous and think positively of others when they have warm hands than when they have cold. Something to think about. So everybody go put on your mittens or hold a hot beverage, and make some donations.

7 thoughts on “cold hands, warm hearts

  1. Alejna, this is a great post. I love how you start with this lighthearted personal thing (with adorable photos, and how exciting that your kids worked together to build a snowman!), and then broadened the focus to community–and, at the end, to politics.
    Also: thank you for reminding us all how we can help. I donated a sleeping bag from the Occupy Sandy registry last night after reading your post. I wish it could get there sooner than Monday.
    Finally, I also love the photo of the snowy jack-o-lanterns!

  2. I agree with Sally that this is a great post. Love that the kids worked together to build the first snowman of the season. Love that you’ve linked us to a resource about how to help the vicitims of Sandy. Love that I now know more about that expression.

    1. Aww, thanks az. You guys are all so nice. Writing a post like this takes a lot out of me, so it means a lot to me to feel that it’s been appreciated.

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