It was the biggest snowstorm our area had seen in more than two decades. Nearly a foot of snow had already piled up by the time we woke up the morning after Christmas, and the snow continued throughout the day. We were officially "snowed in."
Luckily, the house was full of brand-new Christmas toys: Nintendo DS games, Wii games, Webkinz stuffed animals, a digital camera, a new iPod. We were in electronic heaven!
All four of us were staring at screens for most of the day. I was busily typing on my computer, the kids were engrossed in their video games, and my husband was in the garage (a.k.a. his Man Cave) recording music. My Mommy instincts were just starting to tweak thinking about how we were all trapped in the house together, but we weren't really together. We were in our own little electronic worlds.
If I were a fly on the wall at that moment, I would have seen a sad situation, one that plays out in households all over America. This is how families start to fall apart. They no longer connect even though they are all living under the same roof. They just sort of drift away from each other and disappear into cyberspace.
That's when Fate decided to shake things up a bit.
Around 4 p.m., the power went out. What's more, the kids' DS systems, my daughter's iPod, and both of our cell phones ran out of juice. We were officially unplugged from the rest of the world.
It was almost an answer to my silent prayer, but as the sun began to go down, the reality of our situation started to kick in. It was getting very cold, and it was getting very dark.
Our cordless phones wouldn't work without electricity, so I had to dig out an old rotary phone from the attic in order to call the power company. I can only assume they were all on vacation or stuck in the snow somewhere, because I couldn't get a warm body on the line. We didn't know if we'd be out of power for five minutes or five days.
We watched the thermometer in the kitchen drop gradually throughout the evening, and we kept putting on more and more clothes. The temperatures outside were expected to drop into the 20's. We didn't know how cold it would get in the house.
Jeff decided we all needed a hot meal, so he actually grilled hamburgers out back. He even heated up some leftover mashed potatoes from Christmas. It was like camping out in our own kitchen! Our meal was illuminated by a battery-powered lantern, and we all felt a sense of danger and excitement at the silent darkness that surrounded us. We laughed and told jokes and got silly. It was good old-fashioned fun.
After dinner, we decided to play Apples to Apples. The photo below looks like the lights are on, but that's just the flash. Imagine that scene draped in darkness except for the small lantern in the middle of us.
|Playing Apples to Apples in the dark.
The scene looked more like this:
|Samantha reading by flashlight.
After some fun family time, we decided to bunk together in the living room to conserve body heat. As you can see, the room is still trashed from Christmas. We had to push all the toys out of the way to make room for the blankets.
|Miles, Mommy, and Samantha bunking together in the living room.
The irony of the situation was incredible. We were surrounded by hundreds of dollars' worth of high-tech toys and gadgets - a gluttony of riches - and we have to pile up blankets to stay warm. And yet, the kids will probably remember our impromptu slumber party for the rest of their lives. It will become a story that we tell every Christmas: "Remember that time we had to sleep in the living room during the snowstorm?"
As if the Powers That Be knew we could only stand the cold for so long, the electricity came back around midnight, just as it was getting uncomfortably chilly. We slept soundly the rest of the night, and today we are back to enjoying our electronic toys.
I'm busily typing away on my computer and the kids are back on the video games. While nothing has changed in the long run, I think our little family adventure taught us all a lesson we'll remember for a long time.