“A Stove Now? Can Ye No Take A Bit o’ Cold?”
This story comes from the days when stoves were being installed to heat the churches in Scotland. Of course this bit of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” met with resistance from some of the older folks.
One elderly woman declared firmly that there was no need for heat in the church. The old ways were good ways; her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her. But she was outnumbered by the more “self-indulgent” members of the congregation and a stove was duly installed.
The next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — maybe even more so. After the first hymns she fanned herself and removed her heavy coat with a flourish. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she peeled off her thick sweater.
When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint. This little act caused a sensation as she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her.
As one of the ushers helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs. Mac, just knowing the stove is here, what will ever happen to you next Sunday when we actually light the thing?”
Haha this was a great tale. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks for commenting. I wonder if our Vance ancestors, being lowland Scots, were as opposed to creature comforts as those hardy highlanders?
I think that hardy folk harbor resilience as a major component of their identity. To accept comfort that they deem unnecessary would be insulting to them for being the way that they are.
Sometimes there was a fair bit of that “Sabbath” thinking involved, too. My husband’s ancestors were English Puritans and they didn’t believe in working on Sunday (viewing it as the Sabbath) nor did they make their horses work — so they walked to church on Sunday.
They didn’t have heat in their church buildings, either (too much of a self-indulgence.) So they took their dogs along to church and had their dogs lie on their feet to keep them warm in the chilly Boston winter.
I think there was some pride involved in some of that “we’re tough; we can take it” mentality.