O Lord, thank You for insights about our health, that taking small steps can benefit our bodies. I’ve learned that instead of counting down microwave numbers as if for a rocket launch, I can stretch and move …
Though, OMG, You’re right. The resulting hot chocolate isn’t part of the program.
The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced
children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.
Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding
sessions that have baffled men since forever.
Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one
order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?
They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps
eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.
But hot chocolate?
Perish the frou-frou thought.
Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers
have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and
water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.
The real chocoholic,
though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate
— often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power
and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?
Maybe. He certainly
kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.
decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to
himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to
European friends.The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated
(the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate
houses appeared all over Europe.
Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that
caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and
seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.
Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation
didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have
been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not
content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of
cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company
made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000
courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three
Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the
hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless
Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a
hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Inquisition would have loved that one.
hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything
chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at
Starbucks when nobody’s looking.
for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then
drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee
and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.
the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate
warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.
What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?
Embrace November, with its nasty
weather and nastier heating bills?
Warm hats have gone AWOL, except
the pom-pom wonder Aunt Mabel knitted last Christmas. Buttonless and
zipper-challenged coats should have been dry-cleaned in August. Umbrellas are too
obsessed with their broken ribs to provide protection.
Fortunately, fireplaces ignite so
we can toast our toes. Along with the season’s first steaming cup of hot
chocolate, we’ll savor equally delicious books.
Although, authors sometimes diss November. Poet Robert Burns speaks of “chill November’s surly blast,” and in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s alter ego, Jo March, considers November the worst month of the year: “That’s the reason I was born in it.”
But readers rejoice that both Jo
and Louisa made their first appearance in November, along with C.S. Lewis, Robert
Louis Stevenson, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Crane, William Blake and Mark
My dad also was born this month.
Pastor, missionary, tie-hater, woodchopper, even at age 91 — without him, I
remind my husband, I wouldn’t be here. Another reason to appreciate November,
Hubby pleads the Fifth.
Cozied up on November evenings, we
forget about washing windows or putting away garden hoses and patio furniture. If
coulda-shouldas yammer, congratulate yourself that you are not wearing a back
brace like the people who did.
November also grants a few weeks
to meet pre-holiday weight loss goals. But why let downer diet thoughts bother
you? The red top and black pants you’ve worn the past 19 Christmases will suffice.
Speaking of weight, ice cream
lovers don’t stand in long lines in November. So what if it’s cold? Be brave. Add
hot fudge or caramel to counteract frostbite. An even more appropriate choice: warm
peanut butter, as November is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month.
It’s also International Drum
Month in which we celebrate school bands whose stirring rhythms warm frozen
football crowds. Mothers whose toddlers bang toy drums may not cheer much, nor parents
whose garages house teen bands. But November 19, Have a Bad Day Day, serves these
moms and dads well.
All that daylight we saved since
March is nowhere to be found. But November, National Sleep Comfort Month,
confirms that snuggling in bed an extra hour only makes sense.
Jogging in the dark doesn’t.
Nor does yard work — especially with the blessing of an early snow. If we’re lucky, frozen ground won’t permit our planting 900 bulbs bought while under the influence of Lowe’s commercials.
Then we can watch football, “Face
the Nation” or “Punkin Chunkin,” depending on whether we want to cheer the demise
of quarterbacks, politicians, or vegetables. We’ll welcome Thanksgiving with
true gratitude that we remain safe in our recliners.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s
your favorite/least favorite thing about November?