Firesides on winter evenings

Mom and Dad's favorite room on a typical winter's night in 2006

Mom and Dad’s favorite room on a typical winter’s night in 2006

“The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlor firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows

Each year the seasons seem to pass more quickly, so I’m amazed that winter is already drawing to a close.  As eager as I always am for spring, I can’t let the season pass without at least one tribute to the cozy, dreamy appeal of a big, crackling fire.  Perhaps my warmest childhood memories are similar to the comforting thoughts evoked by Toad’s buttered toast; my parents, brothers, sister and I spent many happy evenings together by the fireplace, sometimes accompanied by friends, enjoying laughter and lively conversation.

This winter was not typical for us, with the crisis of Jeff’s diagnosis and treatment.  Among other festivities that fell by the wayside, I cancelled two trips I had planned to see my parents during the holiday season.  I missed the chance to sit by the roaring fires that Mama and Daddy still enjoy.  For many years Jeff and I have lived mostly in homes that are newer and supposedly more energy-efficient, with gas fireplaces that are pleasant, but nothing like a real wood fire in an open hearth.  I fondly hope that next winter will bring us the opportunity to be together at my parents’ hearth, but until then, I am happy for the memories that warm my thoughts on cold evenings.

If you are lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace, or a gas or electric one,  make time to enjoy at least a few more fireside evenings before spring arrives.  Curl up with a good book or new magazine, and a cup of hot cocoa, tea or coffee, and bask in the glow.

Read about another blogger’s family memories here!

This post was originally published seven years ago today. You can view the original with comments here.



  1. Susan

    Julia, when I was in late elementary and junior high school, we lived in a house with a wood fireplace. The wall next to it had three built-in bookshelves, which included my mother’s set of Nancy Drew books. The placement of the couch and end table made this a cozy little square. We also had a very large throw-pillow of dark wintery colors. So whenever my Dad lit a fire (maybe once a weekend in the winter), the little corner, complete with the cozy pillow, became my special reading nook.

    About eight years ago, while visiting back there, I met the current owners, who were out in their yard. Their son generously offered to give me a tour of the house, which was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. (I know you’ve written beautifully about going back to visit childhood places.) I was happy to see that, although some remodeling had been done, the cozy nook was still there.

    I’m still so sorry that Jeff isn’t here to be reading these memories. He fought hard and you both persevered for so long. He is always with you in spirit, which I know can sound like just something we say, but I do firmly believe it to be true and I hope it helps sustain you.

    • Susan, reading your description made me want to BE THERE in that lovely picture you describe! How wonderful you enjoyed such a great blessing. And thank you for sharing it with us. Thanks, too, for your kind words about Jeff. I too believe it to be true, and yes, it does help sustain me.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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