Monday, December 26, 2011

National Lampoon's Powerless Christmas Vacation

We awoke to a lovely Christmas morning. Kids all in their matching Christmas jammies, presents galore, Butterbraids baking in the oven. We then sat down to watch The Grinch and open stockings. All was well until the final scene of the movie when the power went out. We waited a few minutes, figuring it would flicker back on momentarily. But it soon became apparent that the power was out for the long haul. At first, all was well. We watched home movies on the computer, and three of the kids had their iPads to entertain them, a lavish gift bestowed upon them by their father. We all had our phones, some of them with internet connection so we could update our Facebook statuses appropriately with laments about the lack of power. Amid choruses of "what are we gonna DO?" and "I'm hungry" the parental units escaped for a quick slumber, always the most appropriate choice when one is without power. However, all naps must come to an end, and so we were once again faced with problems of boredom and hunger, with no way to cook Christmas dinner. Here is how we coped.

Husband: a true man of the earth, Jeff was enamored with the opportunity for all of us to unplug and live life as pioneers. He proclaimed that he could, indeed, cook our roast over the barbeque. He busied himself in the fading light of the afternoon prepping for a fishing trip and doing all manner of "man things" in the garage while envisioning the womenfolk churning butter and stitching samplers in the kitchen. He also snuck upstairs to read a book on my Kindle.

Me: I was fine until my phone battery started dying and then I started to panic. My connection to the outside world was becoming threatened! Plus, I was bored. Bored and racking my brain for a fun family activity we all could do. A walk around the neighborhood? SIGH. Everyone was still in their pajamas. Go somewhere? No one was ready, and besides, at this point the power had been out for hours and what if the hot water ran out for six showers? Board game? Only if it was LIFE. And I HATE LIFE.

Hayley: Since connectivity was still going strong in the early hours, she made the best of her laptop, iPad and smart phone, texting the contents of her Christmas morning loot to her boyfriend who is on vacation in Canada. As each gadget ran out of power, she became more and more bored. When hunger overcame her, she grabbed her purse, still in her pajamas and said "Screw it. I have money. I'll pay for dinner. Let's go find something open." When her phone died, she went to bed. When the power came on a couple of hours later, she emerged from her den, freshly renewed with the promise of wattage.

Hannah: The iPad was her best friend. Plus, her phone never ran out of battery. And she was smart enough to get a shower before heading downstairs to see what Santa brought, so she was the cleanest among us today. She was just drifting off to sleep when the power returned and she ran downstairs with her sister cheering.

Arlie: The least affected of us all, because she owns neither an iPad nor a smart phone, Arlie busied herself with actually taking her gifts up to her room. Hannah let her play on the iPad for a while, and she managed to entertain herself by constantly texting her friends. However, once the power was restored, she flew downstairs cheering "power!" "lights!"

Harrison: Possibly the most affected of us all, Harrison was fairly smothering from boredom, despite having his iPad to entertain him. He had failed to upload several hundred apps when he received it yesterday, and with no WiFi to access the internet, he was forced to play Stupid Zombies for hours on end. His phone buzzed with texts and he eyed my Kindle Fire enviously. He was mostly on the floor in front of the fireplace all day and mentioned "starving" and "dying" several times. He also didn't want to go anywhere in the house once it was completely dark.

Despite the apocalyptic air in the house, we survived. Our stomachs were growling and after dialing a pizza joint and finding it closed, we decided to go out exploring to see what might be open. Earlier in the week we had noticed a sign saying Jack in the Box was open. So, we headed there. Myself and four kids, in matching pajamas. Jeff stayed behind to man the several candles that were burning. He asked as I was leaving, "Is there anything I can do for you while you're gone? Vacuum or something?" Such a joker. I replied "Make more light!"

We waited in line 45 minutes at Jack in the Box. In the drive-thru. So much for fast food. When we got our food we were missing fries and a drink. (Note: if you have a big family, NEVER leave the drive thru window without checking your order). We finally got everything squared away and by the time I drove out of the drive-thru line, most of the kids had eaten half their food. After all, they were ravenous. And who knew where or when we'd get our next meal?

When we got home, we were greeted with an assault to the nostrils. Something along the lines of the scent gasoline or wax filled the air. I, being gracious and all, said "what the HELL is that horrible smell?" to which Jeff replied, "I made more light!" He had filled a very old kerosene lamp with lamp oil and lit it up. This lamp had been in his grandpa's farm in Kansas. Like, over fifty years ago. And besides it's quaint "Little House on the Prairie" charm, the smell was horrid. However, after our lovely dinner of fast food on this most special of days, I moved the antique lamp to the kitchen and lovingly prepared peanut butter balls for the kids' dessert, a no-bake treat. We sat around the table and did something odd. We talked. With our mouths. Facing each other. It was novel.

But, still. It was dark. Very, very dark. We were bored. Very, very bored. And finally, Harrison, not being able to stand another minute not fully connected to the social network world, called his dad and asked for an escape. You see, although his father lives just a mile down the road from us, he is on a different power grid and had power all day. Finally we settled down, me with my Kindle and a bit of battery life left, Jeff with an actual book and a headlamp with which to read it by, the girls upstairs, all snuggled in bed, while visions of sugarplums.....oh, never mind. Hayley was already sleeping. There was a knock at the door and the father arrived to whisk his son away to the world of lights and cable. He gathered his things and they drove off........just as the lights came on!

I'm not gonna lie. We couldn't plug stuff in fast enough. Recharge! Recharge! Connect! Update status! Watch TV! Whew. It's a good thing we got things back on the grid. For tomorrow we may have had to churn butter....

Nothing went "right" this Christmas, but nothing went wrong either. We spent it together, and despite our original plans to have a movie marathon and a delicious, home-cooked dinner, we had a lot of laughs and it's a Christmas we'll never forget. But would rather not repeat. Merry Christmas!


Jake said...

Fantastic! We had a similar experience...I of course, pointed out that while we had "nothing" to do...we still had gas fireplace and gas stove top and a ton of LED laterns/lights that would blaze for hours! Abbie got her Mac n Cheese while Amy, Piper and I snacked on stope top reheated stuffed chicken breast leftovers (and buttershots & kahlua). We cuddled up near the fireplace talking, reading or playing Apples to Apples. I had to point out a few times that Jesus probably didn't have an iPod Touch OR power 2,000 some odd years ago and we could certainly make it a few hours without Christmas being ruined.

jeff said...

I say we kill the power every Christmas - a new tradition!