A Heretic Among Us

Christmas had come again to my family home with my mother’s ever-growing collection of ceramic nativity figures, the Carpenters on the radio, and the smell of Pumpkin Latte hand soap coming from the bathroom down the hall.

As part of the Christmas festivities, I had the opportunity to host a Christmas party for my Sunday afternoon kids. At the beginning of December, I told them to be prepared; our next meeting was going to be a wildly epic birthday party for Jesus. As the date approached, I found crafts, cut out bingo tiles, made up Christmas cards, put together paper chains, and enlisted others to coordinate the decorations. The crowning pinnacle of the afterparty was a beautiful multicolored birthday cake. “Happy Birthday Jesus” was written proudly across its face.

The party was the next day, and everything was poised for the celebration. Leaving for dinner was my mistake.

As the grinding of the closing garage door came to an end, a pair of gleaming eyes peaked around the counter. She had been waiting for me to leave. Her tail flicked back and forth. She knew from eavesdropping that she had been forgotten this Christmas. The dog had a stocking with a gift inside, but she was neglected. This would never do.

I arrived home from the restaurant, flipped on the lights, and left my purse on the counter. I had almost made it into the living room when I saw it. Whirling around, a shriek erupted from my mouth: “THAT CAT!”

The beautiful cake had been squashed, squished, flattened, mashed, and mushed. It was as if someone had karate-chopped it with a well-placed chop. As if a dictionary had decided to belly-flop onto the plastic cover. As if a magnetic force from below had sucked the lid down only to release it a moment later. My beautiful birthday cake for Jesus had been desecrated beyond repair–and I knew exactly who had done it.

Jazmine, the Siamese cat, sat on the washing machine calling for her dinner. Her tail continued to twitch. She had gotten her Christmas revenge after all.

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Surviving the Power Outage Apocalypse

My family does not listen to weather reports.

When we heard about the epic ice storm that was about to descend on the northeast toward the end of December, we chose to ignore the weathermen. It was the week of Christmas, after all, and Mother Nature wouldn’t be cruel enough to wipe us on that week. Sure, power crews were being brought in from other states and other people were filling their bathtubs with extra water, but it was all exaggerated. People rushed to the stores like it was another Y2K. We were above such things.

About 6:02 AM on Sunday morning, December 21st, we lost power.

Now some of you will not understand the enormity of this occurrence. Not only did we loose phone connections, internet, and cable (which is bad enough the week of Christmas!), we lost heat, lights, and water. While losing lights would be a hardship, coupling that with the loss of heat and water, we were in a pickle.

The week started out on the right foot. But as each degree on the temperature gauge disappeared, a gloom began to settle. Christmas without cookies, old movies, or music didn’t seem like a Christmas well spent. The few lights powered by our generator were all that kept our spirits from deflating.

Four days later, it was 39 degrees. That is the temperature we woke up to on Christmas day. One knows it is cold when the refrigerator is warmer than the house, and you can see your breath inside. 

By Thursday, our poor generator was having the hiccups. Then convulsions. Our lights beganto do a strobe light routine. Something was wrong. As stories from neighbors about blown furnaces, busted wells, and fried electronics reached us, we decided having a few amenities wasn’t worth the long-range consequences.

Winter 2013 020

As the cold crept back into my extremities, I cracked. No longer could I endure the indignities of days     without cleanliness. The inability to be warm. The lack of entertainment. The staring at my dirty, long-   faced, bored family members. I began to pace. Then twitch. Then rant.

“Quick,” my sister, Michelle, said to me, seeing the signs of my looming nervous breakdown. “To my room.”

The pile of clothes on the floor and dresser, unmade bed, and remnants of wrapping paper did little to cheer my mood. I could feel the explosion boiling on the inside.

Michelle closed her bedroom door and stepped back. “Throw stuff,” she said. “And yell.”

I eyed her. What strange orders were these?

“It will make you feel better.”

And with that command, I picked up a pair of jeans. With a fiendish howl, I hurled them at her closet door. Five days of pent up frustration and angst erupted as I wrestled with sheets, beat up on the sweaters, and threw socks in all directions. Shouts and screams issued forth as I told the power outage exactly what I thought of it.

Two minutes later, Michelle’s room looked pretty much like it had previously, and I felt calm, cool, and collected once again.

Suddenly, the power clicked on.

I had survived the 2013 Power Outage Apocalypse.