From the time when man first realized that mastodon was easier to chew with his three teeth when it was cooked, the world got a little warmer. I never thought that building a fire was all that hard. I’m sure that MacGyver marches straight past the matches when he goes to the store, choosing instead to use three safety pins, a wad of chewing gum, and some pocket lint.
Even seasoned survival expert Bear Grylls will tell you that having a fire is one of the most comforting elements on a cold night in the wilds of the Yosemite National Forest Holiday Inn. For me, a fire on the hearth is an integral part of Christmas.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where wood was plentiful. You looked in any garage on the block and you’d find a drum of used car oil, a chainsaw, and a side of venison. Oh wait, that last one was only in Sarah Palin’s garage. It was rare to find a house without a fireplace. We owned a woodlot outside of Puyallup, Washington, home of the annual state fair and daffodil parade. To illustrate how exciting our state fair was, the highlight was the Fisher scone mix kiosk. But I digress.
Grandma and Grandpa Holt had only 3 space heaters and a fireplace in their big old farmhouse. Consequently, there was a fire going every day. In the morning, Grandpa would carry in about a ½ cord of firewood, which he tucked in behind the andirons, ready for ignition. He then doused the wood thoroughly with gas, which he kept in a 5 gallon metal can RIGHT NEXT TO THE FIREPLACE. Add one match to the wood, and BOOM! An explosion of flame shot straight up the chimney and into the upper ionosphere. How he managed not to blow up the house, I’ll never know. Oddly, right after he died, rain started leaking down the chimney for the first time anyone could remember.
The house we live in now has no fireplace: nowhere to hang the stockings; no place to roast chestnuts. It’s years like this that I wish I still had Grandpa around with his gasoline can, or MacGyver. I don’t think that either of them has ever stayed at the Yosemite Holiday Inn.
Hope you all have a warm and Merry Christmas!