Just before Thanksgiving we had no electricity for nearly 12 hours. That reminded me of a Christmas long ago when we had no power.
I am not sure when the electric went out or exactly how long it was out, but an important event happened making it a memorable moment. It was Christmas Eve. We were living in a trailer next to my in-laws on the farm. It just kept getting colder and colder. Trailers are like cars. They warm up quickly, but cool off just as quickly.
My in-laws were scheduled to go out for supper at her sister's house an annual event. That was a good way for them to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Having no electricity in the country means that there are many things you cannot do. There is no water for a bath or shower. There is no water to drink or cook with. You cannot flush the toilet. The gas stove did work. They had not yet begun to put those electric igniters in them yet.
The farm had a generator, but it was cumbersome to hook up. It was a two-man job. The men waited for a while since they did not want to get it going, then have the power come on. Eventually, the generator was turned on so that the animals could have water.
All plans of going out vanished. Mom called her sister to let her know what was going on. Her sister had electricity so the rest of the family gathered.
The other thing that happens when the electricity goes out is there is no heat. Our children were not babies but they were still little. I ran the burners on my stove for a while to heat things up but I did not dare to keep them going long because they use up the oxygen.
My mother-in-law came over to get us when the men went out to do the chores. A house holds heat much longer than a trailer. Besides that her bathroom was warm because the gas water heater was in the corner of the bathroom and it still functioned.
I bundled up the children and grabbed some books to read, some puzzle books, and some crayons. I think I took the Christmas dot-to-dot books that the children were working on before Christmas.
We ended up spending Christmas Eve in Grandma's bathroom. We were even able to remove some layers of clothing and still be warm.
My mother-in-law and I took turns reading stories. We played some guessing games and some pencil games. The children did puzzles and colored for a while. Do you have any idea how many activities it takes to keep little ones busy on Christmas Eve when they are very excited? We were not in the bathroom for just an hour, but for the duration of the outage.
The children were really very good. The bathroom was just a very small space for the four of us to spend a lot of time with nothing to sit on except the toilet and the bathtub. All attention was focused on the upcoming arrival of Santa Claus. To say the children were excited is an understatement.
Chores were done before the power came back on. My in-laws decided that it was too late to get cleaned up and go out. We all had some hot chocolate and cookies before our family left to go home. It did not take long for the trailer to warm back up.
The moral of the story is that I do not remember what the children got for Christmas that year, but we do remember the occasion. The children remember the adventure in grandma's bathroom.
Christmas Eves come and go. They are only memorable if something distinctive happens.
Folks, do not worry about what to buy this Christmas. Gifts are quickly forgotten even if they were the "must have" thing this year. Concentrate on the special times that your family can have together. Think about the things that create memories. Listen to what your children talk about when they get together and take your cue from there.
Oh, our family will have gifts, but they are not nearly as important as the things the family will do. We will go caroling with the people from our church and enjoy a meal after wards. We will attend the Christmas Eve church service.
We will laugh and talk about days like the Christmas Eve that we had no power. We will not talk about the gifts we gave or we received - all of them kind of melt into the setting.
Last year and the year before I took the children and grandchildren to New York City. One year I took the girls and one year I took the boys. Thankfully, my son was able to help with the boys. I did not really consider that a Christmas present but I guess it was. It was a Christmas present for me. I was able to see the wonder in the eyes of the children as they saw the city for the first time. I was able to walk the streets looking at the store windows. I was able to see the big Christmas tree and the people skating like they show so often on television. I was able to go the Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas show and see their eyes light up. Of course, we each saw a Broadway play.
We made memories that will last a lifetime. Each group has different memories, but that is part of the fun.
Merry Christmas - remember that the reason for the season is Emanuel, God with us, who was born to become our Savior. Each year there are four Sundays in Advent that help us prepare for the coming of the Baby. It is the beginning of the church year. Are you ready to receive that gift?
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org