Well, hello there. And Happy New Year! I do hope it’s been a good one so far for you. All I can say is that I hope the rest of 2010 isn’t anything like our first day of it. Which we spent mostly in a hospital after a night of no sleep, making lame jokes to cover our anxiety. We sure didn’t figure on spending New Year’s Day in a curtained room waiting for Benjamin to have surgery. Nope. But…I’m getting ahead of myself.
Really, it would take me several pages to tell you about our “holiday” and who has time for that? So I’ll do it sort of Good News/Bad News/Twitter-like style since I’m working on making my writing more concise and because…well…I really don’t like rehashing bad times.
The Good News is: We had a white Christmas.
The Bad News is: It was only white because we had stale, dirty, left-over snow from an eighteen-inch snow the week before, and it was so horribly cold that it wouldn’t melt.
The Good News is: Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and Benjamin finally got home safely the day after the Big Snow after spending the night in Benjamin’s dorm room because the roads were too bad to travel. What a beautiful sight it was seeing Benjamin trudging up through the snow from the bottom of our driveway carrying his guitar!
The Bad News is: It was a cold, cold house that greeted them because our electricity had gone out the day before. A smelly house, too, because we had no water for flushes.
The Good News is: Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man had found a kerosene heater earlier in the dumpster and he dragged it out, fixed it, and cleaned it up. We had heat!
The Bad News is: The stores in Weaverville were charging ten dollars a gallon for kerosene. And, believe it or not, there was a long line of cold and desperate people waiting to pay it.
The Good News is: We had plenty to eat because (who knew??) you can cook quite well on top of a kerosene heater. It takes a while, but the slow baking gives things a delightful crispiness.
The Bad News is: We ate a lot (1) because we were trying (futilely) to feel warm and (2) to get all that expensive Christmas food eaten before it went bad because after the third day of no power, we were beginning to suspect that it was going to be a while before it came back on and we were beginning to realize that we’d better eat it before it grew some kind of deadly culture that would kill us before the cold or the toxic kerosene fumes did. We did finally bury some of our food in the giant snow drifts on our back patio, but we were a bit late putting it out because we were in denial and we kept thinking that they’d get that power on any time now.
The Good News is: I’d given Tom an LED headlamp as an early Christmas present a couple of days before, and it was incredibly bright. So we were all able to use his headlamp to read by. And speaking of light, the night of the snowstorm when we were huddled together trying to stay warm, Ariel and I repeatedly saw blue lightning illuminate the sky and snow, looking surreal and lovely and other-worldly and making us feel quite happy despite our dilemma.
The Bad News is: Days Three, Four, and Five of the Great Power Failure of Aught Nine were not nearly as fun as the first two. The novelties of Kerosene Cooking , Snowdrift Food Preservation, and reading by the light of the LED get old quickly.
The Good News is: The power came back on for Christmas Eve! Great jubilance and euphoria ensued! We were too tired to put up a tree or any other decorations, but Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and Benjamin did fetch my beloved Nativity crèche from the garage and I played Handel’s Messiah while we tenderly put Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd, the Wise Men, and the baby Jesus in their places.
The Bad News is: We were all wiped out from being so long in survival mode and trying to cook and wash and clean that we pretty much just ate the Christmas dinner I cooked and then fell into bed. Also, I was unable to use my computer because my monitor inexplicably died when the power did. We were still reveling, however, in being able to sleep unfettered by five layers of coat, sweater, and blanket.
The Good News is: We had five more days of relative comfort before the next Big Crisis took place. I was busy catching up on my Christmas baking and getting ready for a four-day visit from Cameron, Ariel’s boy friend. I was looking forward to meeting him because Ariel is crazy about him and he’s crazy about her and I was pretty sure I’d like him a lot.
The Bad News is: We had to postpone Cameron’s visit because Benjamin became ill with awful stomach pains on New Year’s Eve Day. I was sick with worry, thinking that I’d poisoned him with my Kerosene Cooking.
The Good News is: It wasn’t my Kerosene Cooking.
The Bad News is: It was appendicitis. And surgery was imminent. Which was how we ended up in a curtained room in the hospital on New Year’s Day.
The Good News is: The appendix came out with ease, unburst. And Benjamin is getting better by the day. Special thanks to his anesthesiologist, who called himself Bob the Gas Passer and not only answered every question we had, but made us laugh at a time when we badly needed to laugh. Thanks, Dr. Bob.
The Bad News is: I am struggling to regain my usual optimism and my ability to see silver linings. All of this together knocked me for a loop.
The Good News is: Although we’ve had to restrain ourselves a bit so Benjamin won’t bust loose his stitches, we are all still laughing. And we are still hopeful that the rest of 2010 will be much better than the first of it. We are grateful for that hope. And grateful for blue lightning and toilets that flush and water straight from the tap and Christmas cookies and bright lights shining in the darkness. And, yes, we are grateful for the ethereal beauty of the snow and how it renders the ugly beautiful. Praise be.
The Blue Ridge Blue Collar Family joins me in wishing you a year of joy, hope, blessings, and peace. God bless us everyone.