Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite Holidays of the year. I will be boldly honest when I admit that my sending it to the top of the list is in direct relation to the food, but I also just enjoy the simplicity of it. It typically consists of about three days worth of relaxing, spending time with family, and very casual living as you enjoy left-overs from the meals and time off of work. That is why each year I get irritated when Christmas starts to over-run it with music, sales, displays, and so forth. This year was no exception, other than when it came to the complications that a large (at least for our high-desert climate) snow storm brought.
We began receiving rain earlier in the week, but on Thursday night it finally got cold enough to turn into snow. As I mentioned before, snow that comes and stays is pretty rare so when it comes to snow my stance is typically ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’. And this time I believed it.
About 3:30am on Friday morning the electricity in our home shut off triggering complete silence in our home other than the beeping of a video style baby monitor we keep in our room to view the children in the room next to us informing us that it had lost it’s signal to the camera. (This particular monitor can run wireless on a battery making it convenient to take with you wherever you might need to).
My wife being trained after over 7 years of motherhood to respond in an instance to nighttime interruptions was swiftly out of bed and to it, silencing it just in the nick of time…..or so we thought.
Less than 30 seconds later we heard the thumping and opening of our children’s door. My wife was swiftly out of bed again meeting J7 in the hallway to which she stated that it was pitch black and she was scared. I then heard my son, T3, holler from the room “I’m scared!”
Expecting it to be a quick outage the children joined us in bed where we tried to ask the impossible from them knowing the whole time that it was merely wishful thinking to request that they HOLD STILL and try to go to sleep.
After much fidgeting, shooshing, and fighting the constant wiggle my stomach began to rumble as it remembered how tasty the meals were the day before and how much it wanted that long awaited left over turkey sandwich with the homemade rolls that were currently sitting next to the oven.
This, of course, made the children giggle and get even more wound up. So, realizing this was going to be a longer outage than expected I threw the covers off of me, exclaimed “that’s it!”, and rolled out of bed and headed for the living room and kitchen.
The power had been out now for a good 40 minutes. We had gathered out into the living room by the light of our phones and I began stoking the fire from coals to a flame while my wife found some candles and began lighting them on the table.
This acceptance to being awake triggered something inside of J7 and, I kid you not, she began a non-stop stream of talking that lasted well into the next day! T3 also accepted our awaken state and, like his dad, requested some food. So the leftovers were pulled from the fridge and some very delicious turkey sandwiches were made up and the four of us enjoyed an early morning snack around a candle lit table.
The power did come on at about 5am again and everyone tried to settle down to get some rest, but it kicked back off again at 5:30ish and then remained off until nearly 8pm Friday night.
We did make the most of it as we found a winter wonderland when the sun rose which was exciting for everyone involved. Snow apparel was dug out, and once everyone was bundled thoroughly by my wife we went out to play in the deep snow.
Again I was bombarded with hiccups as one thing after another was complicated by the power being out as I attempted to keep the outlaying rooms of the house warm, blow up inter tubes for snow play, make sure refrigerated items didn’t spoil, and so forth in an effort to keep my family comfortable and manage our electricity-less home as I felt obligated to as the man of the house. So, it was quite a relief when the power kicked back on Friday evening, and stayed on, allowing life to get back to normal.
Saturday we planned another Thanksgiving tradition, which was to go cut a live tree off of a nearby mountain. The truck was loaded, lunch and snacks were prepared by my wife, and off we set to hunt out our perfect tree.
After making a quick stop at the Forest Service office to purchase our tag we endured a good forty minutes fart noises resonating from the back seat where our children giggled and laughed as they tried to one-up each other’s manufactured fart sounds. I will admit that my wife and I did egg them on a bit as we couldn’t help but voice how impressed we were with a couple of exemplary sounds that were created by my daughter.
Soon enough we arrived at the junction that would take us just a bit further to where the perfect trees grew. Just beyond that junction we were greeted by ROAD CLOSED! The plows had continued beyond that point, but the gates were shut and locked up tight.
A bit frustrated we scrambled all over the mountain looking for any open road that would get us to the trees we were searching for. But after a thorough search, no open roads were found and we made it full-circle back to the closed gates. After some debating, we decided to get out and walk up the closed road a bit to see what we could find on foot.
About 1/2 mile up the inclined road I found myself constantly having to stop and wait for my children that were doddling along at the pace of vintage VW van trying to keep up with modern traffic.
Not knowing how far we’d have to go, or if the kids would even make it, we decided that I had better just head out and see what I could find. So off I went at my ‘determined to get the job done’ pace to find a tree.
Not more than a mile down the road I finally found a suitable specimen, trudged through the waist-high snow, cut it down, and started back down the road only to be surprised by my family not more than 100 yards off. I genuinely didn’t think they would make it that far, and especially didn’t think they’d make it that quickly. But there they were, trooping along and still rearing to go.
As we chatted for a minute and I expressed my apologies for not waiting explaining I didn’t think they’d make it, the kids found fun climbing up, then sliding down the bank that had been pushed up by the plow that had been down that road.
The bank was no more than about three feet, but it was still so much fun to those two young ones. That made me reflect on the trek up as they were doddling along, they were also picking up large chunks of pre-made snow balls that the plow had created and having an on-the-move snowball fight with mom. (Mom had started this play).
The day before, with the power out, they were still very merry the entire day as mom continued to supply activities, treats, and so forth to keep them entertained and happy. They were all simple things, but effective. All the while I was in work mode ‘doing what had to be done’ to keep the house going, just as I had been today.
My focus was getting a tree and the closed road had just made me even more focused on the task, turning my attitude from a happy outing as a family to a task that was being tried on every hand with the snow and closed roads. There was no fun in this job, just the job that HAD to be done so that I could move on to the next job at hand.
As I watched my kids play in this snow pile that had been pushed up on the edge of the paved road, simply reveling in the opportunity to play in this snow I felt myself getting a little jealous. Here I was, a trained hound with a job to do, and these were care-free puppies chasing butterflies.
But honestly, what was at stake each of these days? When the power was out we had a wood burning stove to keep us warm inside, and it was plenty cold outside to keep our refrigerated items cool and unspoiled. As simple as that.
If we couldn’t get a tree today we’d simply find a fake version that would be easier to maintain and cleaner to set up and take down. So why stress over cutting a live tree today? Enjoy being up on the mountain, in the snow, with your beautiful family!
After kicking myself for not enjoying the simple pleasures of the weekend I grabbed the tree, with a smile on my face, and we all headed down off the mountain. T3 ‘helped’ me drag the tree for a bit just as happy as he could be. I enjoyed the sun shinning through the frosted trees as I watched my kids run and slip-and-slide on the icy patches that still remained on the paved road.
Back at the truck my wife had a thermos of hot chocolate waiting for us along with a bag full of snacks. And that’s when I realized she was the real hero of the weekend. At each roadblock we met, some more literal than others, she was prepared with the solution, as simple as it may have been, but in each case it was effective.
I felt the need to complicate each task by putting a weight that was unnecessary on the scenarios while she sought out a way to expose the simple pleasures that would make the most of it!
This Thanksgiving I am grateful for my wife and the simple pleasures she introduced to make it a wonderful weekend.