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Warm up to January with hot tea, oatmeal, soup

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For those of you who do not like January, take heart. Even with the coming of some of our coldest weather of the year, there are blessings and ways to warm up to January with a little imagination.

January has dozens of national observances, including a few that can warm us up and get us through the first weeks of winter. Did you know that January is national hot tea month, national oatmeal month and national soup month? Those who worked for these January observances knew what they were doing.

Think about hot tea and its power to warm, calm and nourish a weary soul. Whether tea is consumed at breakfast, midday, evening or at that magic tea hour, 4 o’clock, it sets a mood, encourages reflection or conversation and makes the tea consumer believe there is hope for the world.

Tea lore has developed over the thousands of years that humans have been enjoying tea, and numerous observations have been recorded about its use.

Agatha Christie observed, “Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea.”

Mick Jagger admitted, “I got nasty habits. I take tea at three,” and Chiam Potok gave this invitation: “Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”

Mary Elizabeth Braddon claimed, “Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea.”

Say these words out loud: Earl Grey, chamomile, hibiscus, jasmine, mango tango, Chai. Are you warm yet? If not, go boil a pot, let the tea steep properly and have a spot or a cuppa; your January day will be cozy in no time.

Oatmeal, that champion warmer and nourisher, is just waiting to make a January day start on a good note. A bowl of proper oatmeal, or porridge as some call it, at breakfast packs loads of antioxidants, fiber and other benefits and goes down so well in its creaminess and warmth. Oatmeal that is sugared and creamed is a fine start on a cold day, and its comfort lasts all morning.

Kay Thompson claimed, “You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.” Well, that might be an exaggeration, but you get her point.

Jillian Michaels said that when you eat whole grains like oatmeal, it is like putting a log on a fire. That is how oatmeal can warm you up on a January day.

And then there is soup, that concoction that steams up the kitchen windows while it boils, that medicine for the sick and that food that goes down oh-so smooth, is celebrated in January when we most need it.

Thousands of soup recipes warm up cold people on winter days, and a pot cooking on a hearth or stove defines the word “home” better than just about any other food on a January day. Chicken soup is good for our flu, our cold and our soul, and it is best when made by someone who loves you and serves it to you on one of those little bed trays as you attempt to sit up in bed. Crumbled crackers in the steaming brew make a homey medicine.

What have people said about soup? How about these gems?

The Campbells people say that their soup is “Mmm Mmm Good.”

Molier said, “I live on good soup, not fine words.”

Vanna White claimed, “When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off.”

Cold soups in summertime are great, but January calls for a pot of steaming vegetable, chicken, broccoli, potato, celery, bean, cauliflower or some other kind of soup from a stock pot in someone’s home kitchen, thank you very much.

Go ahead, have a cuppa, a bowl or a mug of tea, oatmeal or soup to soothe, heal or warm yourself this January.

And at the end of the month, let your hot tea, oatmeal and soup spill right into February, too. You will need some comfort and warmth during one of our other cold months.

Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute teacher in Wilson County. Her column focuses on charms and ideas for a fuller life. Email her at