People living in Minnesota, Chicago, North Dakota or other areas north — way north — of the Lakelands might be chuckling at us right now. After all, they're rather accustomed to extreme weather conditions.
But even our friends to the north had to brace for the arctic blast that encompassed a large portion of the country. Indeed, we don't have a fleet of snow plows, we're not used to much more than a dusting of snow at any given time during the winter and we certainly have winter temperatures that mirror Florida more than Iceland.

This winter blast, however, is nothing to chuckle about — not up north, not down south. It is extremely dangerous, the sort of weather that not only brings people and commerce to a standstill, but also kills.
Locally, people stepped forward to do what they can. Shelters are operational throughout the Lakelands, providing a place of safety and warmth for those without heat or homes. And as always, people's generosity and compassion extends to our four-legged friends as donations of food and blankets were made to area animal shelters.
Our hope is when this blast of cold air has given way to more normal temperatures, we all will have survived, thanks in great part to the kindness and compassion of others.
Perhaps this weather will uphold a belief the spirit of Christmas can and does extend beyond the season itself.