It wasn’t much but it seemed like a Christmas Eve Miracle to us

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It wasn’t much but it seemed like a Christmas Eve Miracle to us

As we ascended hilly Bullard Street, my heart fluttered between different emotions: awe at the state of the many trees bending under the weight of icy boughs as they prostrated heavily into the road; on a couple of occasions I had to swerve to the side to avoid them. The deciduous trees were in the worst shape. Will they ever recover? I thought despondently.

I felt envy when I passed the properties on the lower section of the road and noticed that everyone had electricity. I pointed this out to my wife. “Hmm, they don’t seem to have been hit like us,” I mused, looking at the Christmas lights.

We were returning from Montreal. Brenda had decided to accompany me for my one day of work before beginning a five-day vacation. She didn’t want to stay in a cold house, feeding the fire and basically doing nothing else besides reading her book. We had not had electricity since 4 pm of the previous day.

As we progressed along the street I suddenly noticed properties in complete darkness. “Oops,” I said, “The electricity’s off here.” We were quickly approaching our street and I was pretty sure that our house would be as dark as those that we were passing. The sense that I had was of sadness that our neighbours were “celebrating” Christmas Eve in the dark.

We knew how hard it could be. Yes, we had enjoyed a candlelight dinner the night before. But we couldn’t flush our toilets and we couldn’t wash our dishes. We were lucky to have a propane-fuelled stove and a wood oven, however. But when you go to bed in the dark at 7 pm because there’s nothing else to do, you can’t be all smiles.

I had called Hydro Quebec’s emergency line at work and the automated voice had said that the electricity would be back on “within 23 hours”. That would take us to Christmas morn. Yucks!

We turned onto our street. “Hey,” I said to Brenda, “Tom and Sally have their Christmas tree lights on,” pointing out our neighbours. “They must have their generator on. They’re wasting their generator energy to light up their Christmas lights!” I said disapprovingly.

We turned into our place. As we approached our house, I had a Christmas Eve vision: the lights were on in the hall! “Look,” I exclaimed, “the lights are on!” The delight that we both felt washed over us. Inside our much-less-freezing place, I jumped up and down like a little kid. “We have power! We have power!”

Sure, the cliché’s true: you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. And you do feel more compassion for people in similar or worse conditions when you have gone through it yourself. Our power was off for more than 24 hours but it wasn’t the end of the world.

But if the road to Bliss is paved with Bliss, as Maharishi is supposed to have said many, many years ago, then the comforts that electricity brings – the luxuries of warm and hot water in abundance, light, warmth from our baseboard heaters, the radio, music and television, Internet and computer that entertain us, to name a few – plays an important role in that. Which brings us to thinking of times past when there was no electricity, and to people around the world – the Philippines and Syria comes to mind – where our fellow humans are trying to survive seriously bereft of basic amenities.

What the hell is that?

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We looked outside our window. What the hell?

Two giant ice-covered shapes sat before our house. You know how ice preserves things? They go into the glaciers in the Andes and find preserved bones stuck in the ice.

Should I call National Geographic? I asked myself.

“Let’s uncover them and see what they are,” I suggested to my wife.

We found some tools and started digging and scraping and chipping away at the ice, which was four inches thick in some places. Brandy worked on one shape, I worked on the other. We couldn’t make out what they were yet. Was it some ancient mastodon from a prehistoric era? Err, I mean, two ancient mastodons…

We got lost in the work. Giant slabs of ice started coming off but we were so into the process that we didn’t try to make out what these things could be.

Finally, as more and more ice sliding off, we could sense that the end was near. “I’m enjoying this,” my wife said. She was busy pounding at the ice and enjoying watching it break off in large and small pieces.

We stood back from our work.

“Oh,” I said.

“Oh,” Brandy said.

“It’s your Mazda,” she said.

“It’s your Subaru,” I said.

“Don’t call National Geographic,” she said.

“Err, OK,” I said.

We went back into the house.

Naomi and I would like to wish you all the best for the New Year.

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