Our furnace went out last week, Tuesday, right in the middle of a cold snap. I guess it must have happened in late morning, but I didn't notice until afternoon, when it got too cold to work in my upstairs office. I called a local heating guy, took off the rest of the day from work, and settled down in the living room with a book and a blanket. There's a gas fireplace in the living room, so I could keep it heated in there until the heating guy showed up. Kinda cozy.
The cats usually sleep in the upstairs bedrooms all day, but they showed up cold and confused in the living room within the hour. They hung out with me in the only warm room in the house, while we waiting for the heating guy together.
Our bedroom was 52 degrees when he finally showed up. He had the furnace up and running within a half hour of showing up, and it was warming rapidly by the time the girls came home.
For the rest of the week, every time the furnace chugged on I was caught by surprise. Such a primal fear, to be caught in the cold with no way to get warm. Such a powerful comfort, to have a source of heat in the winter. I'd argue that the abiding popularity of Christmas stems not from Christianity, or commercialism, but from the simple archtypical need to stay warm, and have food on the table, and a safe place for your loved ones, on the shortest day of the year. Hearth and home.