By Mary Lynn Bruny

It’s fall in Colorado which means it will be winter any day. Yes, we have both flip-flops and snow boots by the front door, but soon it will just be the boots. It’s the time of year to get out the flannel sheets.

According to our offspring – a.k.a. our children – my husband and I barely heat our house. This is no doubt the result of living in old homes most our adult lives whose historic windows only give a passing nod at keeping cold air out or warm air in – even with storm windows.

In my husband’s and my younger years together we could not afford to bask in the delightful 70-degree indoor temps during winter. If we did we could have bought small islands for what our monthly heating bills would have been. So we got use to living in temperatures slightly warmer than a refrigerator. I’m accustomed to typing with fingerless gloves and sleeping under mounds of heavy covers.

Now we live in a house with good windows and can set the heat at any temp our hearts (and bodies) desire. We have maybe added a few scant degrees of warmth. At this stage of our lives we’re use to being slightly chilled all winter and find what most think of as regular warmth as slightly stuffy.

Side note: Older readers will remember growing up during the energy crisis of the Reagan years. I can vividly recall the ultra serious look on my late Italian father’s face when telling us four kids that, “Under no condition are you ever, ever, ever to touch this thermostat or you will be grounded forever! FOREVER! Do you understand me? Do you?” My father had that intense Robert De Niro-like vibe in “Meet the Parents.” We did not touch that thermostat; we put on more sweaters.

But back to flannel sheets: You do have to be careful with them. For example, there’s what happened when my spunky mother last visited us. My mom, in her 80s, is the incredibly shrinking woman. Every time we see her she seems to become more of a wee thing. Soon she’ll just be a feather with a head. She resides in Savannah where – despite living more than half her life in Ohio – she has what she calls “thin blood.”

She is always cold in our house even though we crank up the heat for her. It feels to my husband and me like we’re just sweltering. We’re peeling off layers of clothing as my mother keeps piling them on. (I can see at some future point we’ll be in our underwear and she won’t be able to bend her arms or legs; she’ll be like a toddler in a puffy snowsuit.)

During her last visit, to combat our Colorado cold she brought flannel pajamas and actually got stuck in bed. I heard her hollering for help and thought she had fallen off the bed whose mattress and box spring are ridiculously high for her small self, like the Princess and the Pea. But no, it turns out she was trapped. Her flannel gown and the flannel sheets were acting like Velcro together, and the weight of the heavy covers just sealed her in. “I’m trapped and I can’t get up – or out!” she said laughing. I helped her escape and loaned her a cotton nightgown.

Apparently you have to be pretty strong to handle flannel-on-flannel bed action. Just turning over takes amazing strength and endurance. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who couldn’t complete a triathlon. But I would recommend flannel sheets in general, especially if your idea of a good indoor winter temperature causes ice cubes to freeze.

By Mary Lynn Bruny is a Colorado freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].