Dark, chilly Christmas memories

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Winter’s blasts of snow and ice tickle the fancy of some while creating for others extreme hard work for hours on end, along with nightmarish challenges that cannot be resolved overnight.
When the snow started to fall a few days before Christmas, some commented that they were happy because it looked like we were going to have a white Christmas. Others grumbled and said, “Oh, just you wait …”
The grumblers were correct. The snow that started with tiny, fluffy flakes that Wednesday morning just never stopped.
It intensified throughout that day, then changed over to rain in the middle of the night, just long enough to cause a heavy, icy crust on everything, then changed back to snow.
And just kept on snowing.
Ice and snow. In my part of the world, before it all ended, we had 15-18 inches of snow on the ground, complicated by ice everywhere.
The frightening thing, for so many, was the loss of power. As temperatures dipped quite low, the question of how much longer the power would be out became a very serious one.
We were among the lucky ones, as our power never even flickered. But, friends and family were stunned to find themselves without power for days on end.
Are they workin’? My niece’s little boy, Blayne, called me from his Grammy’s house, “The lights aren’t workin’ at our house. How about you? Do the lights work at your house? How about the TV? It workin’ for ya? Ya need help with anything?”
He then went on to tell me that Santa found him and his brother Brayden even though they weren’t at their own house. He pointed out that Santa used some of the very same wrapping paper on his presents that his mom had wrapped Uncle Bub’s gift in! “Isn’t that somethin?” he said with a chuckle.
Passing time. We invited friends who were without power to come stay with us, but most had either decided to stay put in order to keep a fire burning in a fireplace, while others were able to get generators to run the basic needs of a home.
As day passed in to night, the temperatures dipping well below zero, it became frightening how many were existing without heat. This was toe-numbing, finger-freezing, mind-numbing cold.
I talked with a couple visiting from Florida on the last day of the year. “We survived three hurricanes this past year and were without power for just a very short time. We travel here for Christmas to visit family and have been without power the entire time.”
They sent their 18-year-old son back to Florida on a plane after several days of sub-zero existence huddled around a fireplace. Calls for assistance were greeted with a taped recording, wishing all a happy holiday season.
‘Not much’ to do. Cort’s best buddy, Jared, was without power a total of six and a half days. He spent a couple nights here, other nights with grandparents.
What can you do during a long power outage? “Not much,” was Jared’s succinct answer.
School teachers who spent their holiday break battling the elements tell me they feel cheated. Hours on end were spent in Laundromats, shoveling snow, keeping a fire going, tending to water pipes that threatened to freeze.
Then temperatures began to climb, creating the fear of food poisoning as Mother Nature’s outdoor refrigeration system was no longer working to their benefit.
It is not exactly the type of memories one would wish for, but it was a Christmas that will not soon be forgotten.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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