Winter nights bring on cravings for the most hearty and satisfying of meals. Light, fragrant cooking oils are supplemented with dollops of butter, which melt into beautiful golden pools. Steaming soups are full of barley or rice or beans, and, if you are so inclined, morsels of delectable meat. The balance of veggies tips away from the leafy variety and towards the substantial array of squashes and root vegetables. Warm, spicy sauces might coat your bowl, or thick gravies or strings of cheese might cling to the back of your spoon, long after your stomach has filled and extended in a happy state of satiation. That is not to say, of course, that there isn’t a secret compartment in your digestive system that would be receptive to a serving of something decadent and sweet. You might fill that hole with a gooey chocolatey cake, the fragrant crumb of warmly-spiced gingerbread, or the flaky crust and sticky sweetness of homemade pie. Somehow, they taste even better when they were made a few days ago and have lingered in the fridge, because you know that they wait for you for tonight’s dessert, and tomorrow’s, and maybe the day after that, too. The smells of vanilla, or cinnamon, or nutmeg re-enforce our newly minted memories of shared meals with loved ones, while recalling nostalgic memories of our childhood. And when we climb into bed, at ten, or twelve, or two, even the icy toes of a selfish bed partner cannot displace the sigh of contentment and warmth that comes from our hearts.
Unfortunately, not all of the members of our communities can experience this warmth every night. If you can spare a coat, a scarf, or even a pair of mittens, look for your community’s collection and donation bins and give someone the gift of warmth.