Saturday, December 20, 2008

Line Compression

We all like to get ahead. We like to move forward. This is the explanation, I think, for something I noticed while traveling recently. A phenomenon I shall call “line compression.”

My husband and I were flying, this time, as paid passengers—not airline employees on stand-by. We were standing in line (on line, the translation for you Brits out there) waiting to check-in for our flight. It was a week before Christmas, so it was like watching amateur night: the woman flying to Thailand without a visa, the family trying to check ten cardboard boxes filled with consumer electronics, the woman re-packing her ginormous bag in an attempt to get the weight down below fifty pounds. Although, judging from its size, I think the bag alone must have weighed fifty pounds.

About thirty people were waiting in line and only three agents were working the counter, all three of them absorbed with the above mentioned passengers (and sometimes all three of them absorbed with the woman going to Thailand without her visa). However, after about twenty minutes of standing in line, I’d noticed the line had moved forward considerably, that we were now about twenty paces further along than when we’d entered. In fact, we’d turned a corner! Everyone likes to turn a corner. It’s a milestone. A sign of progress!

But I also noticed the guy that had been at the front of the line when we’d gotten into line, was still at the front of the line now. In other words, no one had moved any closer to getting waited on by an agent. We’d all simply moved closer, literally. Line compression.

And it continued. For twenty more minutes. Everyone, about every five minutes or so, would shuffle forward a few inches, pulling or kicking their bags along with them. Progress!

Wow. This is cool. Some kind of weird psychology lesson. Okay, I know, in the great scheme of things, maybe not so cool or interesting even, but hey, what else did I have to do while waiting in line. Remember, traveling for me, without a uniform on, is a special treat. I’m no longer the one being watched. It’s me that gets to do the people watching for a change.

Now, lest you think this “line compression” phenomenon is exclusive to that one line, to that one early morning flight on Airline “A,” let me assure you, my very scientific study was quite thorough. I observed line compression in many lines on many airlines. Specifically Airlines “A,” “B” and “C.” Another observation, the longer the wait, the more severe line compression becomes. We waited in one line, (sadly, a line to check-in for my airline) for well over an hour. As the wait became more and more arduous to endure (fifty people in line and one woman working the counter and absolutely no progress for twenty minutes at a time) we became more and more packed together, until, for a moment, I thought the woman behind me might climb up on top of me and demand a piggy back ride.

This all has me wondering, does line compression occur elsewhere? At the bank, or the grocery store? The carwash, maybe? Perhaps it does. I will boldly continue my research—the next time I’m in a line with nothing better to do than study the psychology of bogus human progress. Right now, at home, I simply want to decompress.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Family Time Magazine

City Mom gets published in Family Time Magazine! The column, Karate Kids, which originally debuted on this blog, is the Front Porch Tales feature article in the October issue of Family Time Magazine. Thanks to Editor Karyn Bowman and everyone at Family Time for their support of my writing!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Right Brothers

It’s not easy to always be right. Sadly I don’t know this from personal experience, I merely heard it from an acquaintance of mine. Perpetual righteousness is, apparently, a difficult cross to bear. I learned about this terrible affliction when an acquaintance—let’s call him Mr. Right—said it was difficult for him to argue with his wife, because he was never wrong.

We were a group, out at dinner, two men, the rest women, none of us couples. Mr. Right went on to say the arguments he had with his wife would drag on and on until he eventually would convince her of his righteousness. Now, to be fair, he did say they broke down each of their arguments, always looking for the best course of action in every situation. Funny, but it always ended up being his course of action.

The other ladies and I began to exchange looks, running the gamut, from, Can you believe he’s really saying this? Out loud? to Thank God I’m not married to this asshole.


However the other man, the only other man in our party, was looking at our speaker with love and adoration in his eyes. He nodded and smiled along with Mr. Right, then said, “I have the same problem!”

While these two men stopped short of high-fiving each other, they were clearly thrilled to have found some common ground. They were both always right! What are the odds?

What are the odds indeed? I couldn’t believe I was hearing it. I couldn’t believe they were serious. But there wasn’t a trace of facetiousness in their tone. The second guy even went so far as to say that often, when he was fighting with his wife, sometimes one of his kids would make eye contact with him and give him a wink, like, We both know mom’s an idiot, but let’s continue to humor her.

Now I was vacillating between incredulousness and outrage. Out of character for me, I elected to not say anything. Why would I want to get into an argument with two idiots who just confessed they think they’re always right?

One woman, God bless her, did try reason. She said it was impossible for anyone to be right all the time. (Can we not agree that this is a universal human truth?) She said it was unfair to their wives for these men to even think so. It was demeaning to them, trivializing their whole existence. We rallied to support her. Guess who won that argument.

I find it hard to believe men like this are still out there: men that don’t feel manly unless they’re right. My husband is so secure, it boggles my mind to think the other type still exists. Of course my husband and I argue. I win some; he wins some. We don’t keep score, but we’ve both done our share of saying, “I’m sorry” and “You’re right.” And isn’t being able to admit you’re wrong a bigger testimony to personal strength than the path these two Right Brothers have chosen?

Say, now that I think of it, maybe it would be kind of nice to live with someone who was always right. Incapable of making a bad decision. Ever. What would that be like? We probably wouldn’t have ended up buying that Jeep Grand Cherokee, the one that needed a new engine at five thousand miles and we certainly wouldn’t have moved to New Jersey for a year back in 1988. But it’s those wrong decisions that have lead to so many right ones.

Some may think I should worry the Right Brothers will be upset with me, writing about them in such an unflattering light, pointing out how much I think they’re wrong. But I’m not worried. They don't care about the opinion of their wives. They didn’t care what us women said to them at dinner. Men like that would never search the Internet to find out what some woman has to say. And in this, I know I’m right.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book Signing

I'll be in LaGrange, Illinois on Thursday September 4th from 7 to 9pm for the
24/8 Book Club's
Celebration and Authorbration


Here's the scoop from the 24/8 Book Club!

Gather for the 24/8 anniversary party at SoTish Gallery, on Thursday, September 4th. Everyone is welcome at the 24/8 Book Club, we bring together authors and books to interesting spaces on line and at our take a break evenings. Whether you visit us on line or come to a 24/8 event there is never any cleaning or cooking.

It is a party night in La Grange as they auction off the Adirondack lounge chairs that have decorated the sidewalks of La Grange all summer. Remember the festivities are easily accessible from the Metra La Grange stop.

Join us:

Thursday, September 4th from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
SoTish
23 South La Grange Rd.
La Grange, IL 60525


Treats by Chef Joe Duffy and a cash bar will be available.

RSVP requested: email - falise@248bookclub.com or call - 708-352-4696

Visit the website, www.248bookclub.com for the latest event news and book talk.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kiss and Tell

Dear Citymom readers,

A writer friend of mine is asking for your help! She’s writing an article for the Chicago Tribune on how parents kiss their children. Do you kiss them on the lips? Do you refuse to? If you have a strong opinion about kissing children on the lips, either way, pro or con, and would be willing to be interviewed, please contact Heidi Stevens at hstevens@tribune.com

Thank you!
Kim

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hummm

I saw a Hummer driving down the sidewalk a few days ago. Yes, I said the sidewalk.

He was driving his giant silver Hummer between a large condo building and the parkway. By necessity, his left wheels were on the parkway, since his behemoth of a vehicle wouldn’t fit on the sidewalk alone. Everyone on this normally dull and quiet residential street stopped and stared. While we all stopped short of rubbing our eyes roughly with our fists, we did exchange looks with each other after he, eventually, made it off the sidewalk, back onto the street and drove away: Did we all really just witness that?

I don’t know why or where he ventured off the road and onto the sidewalk. Perhaps he only transited from the alley, turning right onto the sidewalk instead of the street because he got lost. Or confused? Or he was in a terrible hurry and the street was busy? I think the most likely reason is he thought, “I drive a Hummer and I can drive it wherever the hell I like, because who’s going to argue with me?”

It’s no secret I don’t like Hummers, unless they’re being driven by our troops. It’s the ones I see in the city here that I’d like to see hit by roadside bombs. People who drive Hummers are selfish. They scream, by virtue of their vehicle choice, “I have a lot of money and I don’t give a crap about the environment or anyone else.” Driving your Hummer down the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood absolutely confirms this attitude. I honestly don’t know why I’m so surprised. It seems it was only a matter of time.

So what’s next? Hummer’s driving over other cars in the drive-through lanes at fast-food restaurants? A Hummer driving through Millenium Park to get a better look at the Bean?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the joke, "If you don’t like how I drive, stay off the sidewalk." But it chills me to wonder what would have happened if someone’s child had run out the front door of that condo building Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to get his license plate number. I don’t know if anyone else managed it. I sure would have liked to see Mr. Hummer get a ticket, but that sort of justice seemingly only happens in Hollywood. I’m sure the second I tried driving my Camry down the sidewalk, a cop would be right there.

Maybe someone out there who drives a Hummer could explain it all to me—the bravado, this irrational sense of entitlement. Perhaps you would tell me you’re expecting Armageddon any day now, what with the economy and the war and the terrorists and all. You might soon need your bulletproof gas-guzzler to get across town in order to loot the grocery store. But why wouldn’t a regular old gas guzzling SUV do? Because you wouldn’t look so grand driving down the sidewalk? I guess I can’t answer that one—having never seen a Lexus 350 making it’s way through the chalk drawings and Baggo sets of Wolcott Street. Watch out! The new phone books are here! Wouldn’t want to run over the petunias on that front porch stoop. Or would you?

It’s weird and sad and not a little bit crazy, and it just makes me go Hummm.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sasquatch Responsibility

I was clipping my son’s toenails yesterday, a weekly ritual at our house, which is why, as with all things we do routinely, I’d failed to notice something painfully obvious: anyone with feet that big should be able to clip their own toenails.

My boys wear men’s size ten shoes. They are eleven years old. And I don’t mean eleven dog-years. But like puppies, the disproportionately large size of their feet simultaneously terrifies (They’re going to be so tall!) and delights (They’re going to be so tall!) me.

I know their enormous feet didn’t happen overnight. It was only a couple of years ago they hit the milestone of having their shoe size surpass mine. But like anything you see everyday, you fail to notice the changes as they happen, because they happen so incrementally.

We try to increase their responsibilities incrementally as well. Although, sometimes we get the timing wrong. Perhaps they were too young to start cleaning their fish tanks solo. (The watermark on the living room ceiling should disappear with a fresh coat of paint.) The converse is also true.

I forget at what age we started having them clear their plates from the table—it was pretty young. At the time, they’d clear only their plates using both hands. To ask them to balance their drinking glass and a plate would have been asking for trouble. However, they were ten before it occurred to us they’d reached a level of coordination necessary to clear their glassware as well. I mean, duh. How did that one get by us for so long? Which begs the question, what else are we missing?

On Mother’s Day, I had them wash their first load of laundry. I thought it was a terrific Mother’s Day gift. Pink underwear for everyone! They grumbled through the entire process, but they did complete the task after I explained I was not about to spend my Mother’s Day washing dirty gym uniforms because they forgot to bring them home in a timely manner. And isn’t being a mom really about teaching your children to, eventually, become self-sufficient?

I often approach these new milestones with a little speech that begins, “There comes a time in every young man’s life, when he’s old enough to—” Fill-in the blank here: pick up his dirty socks off the floor; get his mother a can of Diet Pepsi from the fridge or file his own Social Security benefits application.

It’s hard to tell sometimes what life-skill challenges they’re ready for. Tasks like doing laundry and fetching a diet Pepsi are one thing—but what about a trip to the store? There’s a grocery within two blocks walking distance and one night, before a dinner party, I asked them to run down and get me some fresh rosemary. My sitter, on her way home for the evening, was mortified. “How can they do that? I will get it!” I simply agreed and let her go, not because I didn’t think my boys capable—there are two of them, the streets that needed crossing are side streets and they’re approaching their black belts in Tai Kwan Do. But there’s this part of me that still isn’t sure. They’d never gone there alone before. We do live in the city. Does my recipe really need fresh rosemary?

There are so many new things they’re capable of now, like helping to carry in groceries or unload the rafts of paper products I buy at Costco. Once, they even single-handedly (well, double-handedly) made brownies. I’m sure there are a lot more ways we could be challenging them. And even though I’m still a little hesitant to send them to the store (unless of course, it’s a culinary emergency) I am certain of this: the very next life-skill they will learn, will be how to clip the nails on those men’s size ten toes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Printers Row Book Fair

I'll be at the Printers Row Book Fair on Sunday June 8th at 2pm to sign copies of Wish Club. I'm being hosted by the University of Illinois Library, Exhibit areas K1,2,3. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Radio killed the Rock and Roll Star

“Cubs score!” I imagine my son’s guitar teacher giving an enthusiastic fist-pump at the news as he hears it on the radio. During my son’s guitar lesson.

I laughed when Ethan told me the story, that his teacher was listening to the game during his 30-minute session. My husband chuckled too. “Okay,” we thought. “It’s opening day. Everyone’s entitled to a little Cubs fever on opening day.” Especially when the teams are in the process of tying it up in the ninth inning. Plus there were rain delays—which made the game continue on into hours that were later than usual—guitar lesson hours.

But then Ethan came home the following Monday and told me the game was on again during his lesson this week. “Just in the background, though. Not very loud at all.”

Hmmm. Now, it’s suddenly not so funny. Those guitar lessons aren’t cheap—the same price as two beers and a hot dog at the game.

I’m reminded of all the times I’ve been in conversation with my husband while the game is on the radio. Just in the background, though. Not very loud. I’ll be telling him I’ve switched to a new brand of green laundry detergent, the kind that’s better for our rivers and lakes, and from out of nowhere I get the enthusiastic fist-pump, the elbow jammed back alongside his waist. For a brief moment I find myself thinking, “Wow. I didn’t know he cared so much about our rivers and lakes.”

Of course, he doesn’t. Or at least not at that particular moment, the moment when Carlos Zambrano hit a sacrifice fly to advance the runner to third.

The only thing I think that might be worse than that Cubs fist-pump, is the fierce “Shh!” I sometimes get it in the middle of a conversation, when Pat and Ron are having a better conversation about a two-run homer in the fourth. My feelings get hurt every time. I mean, would I ever do that to him if he were telling me abut his day and Rachel Ray broke in with an especially enticing recipe for onion dip? No, of course not! But that’s mostly because I don’t watch Rachel Ray, or particularly care for onion dip. My point is, we all tend to shush each other. I do it when there’s news on the radio about airplanes or airlines. My kids do it, too. And actually in a much nicer way than my husband or I. “Wait!” they plea. “I just want to finish this level!”

But it all begs the question: Is having the game on in the background okay when you’re paying someone for their services? I don’t think so. I get visions of a society where people get shushed in the checkout lane at the grocery store or in heart-transplant surgery at the hospital.

No, I don’t think shushing someone is really ever appropriate behavior and the same for having the game on during a guitar lesson. And as much as I understand and sympathize, as much as I love my team as well, this means that, should my son come home from his lesson this week with the same story, I will have to call over to the music school and have a chat with the guitar teacher. Just as soon as the Cubs finish their at bat.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

No sense of humor at EBay...

Aww. EBay pulled my ad. They said I wasn't selling anything "real." (And those people who sell ad space on their foreheads are?) But for those of you who "get it," you can still smile about it here (and continue to lament about corporate America. Oh, and if you're really interested, check out http://www.keepitwrigley.net/)

Here's my ad as it originally appeared on EBay:

Wrigley Naming Rights

This is the opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to say you were the one who chose the new name for my dog, “Wrigley Field ‘Wait ‘Til Next Year’ Sargent.” That’s her official AKC registered name, had we ever gotten around to actually registering it.

Unlike some, I’m not trying to be greedy here, just recoup my losses. Those 40-pound bags of Eukanuba Lamb and Rice formula aren’t cheap. Not to mention the vet bills. We’d prefer a name that rolls of the tongue, like “Pepsi” or “Torco” but for the right price, would settle for something along the lines of “Oppenheimer Funds.” And try to keep it clean, she’s a family dog.

I’ve decided to start the bidding at $1000, which seems reasonable since this is approximately the amount of money it costs to take our family of four to a ballgame at the real Wrigley Field. Even though we’ve lived less than a mile from the stadium for the last 19 years it’s become more and more challenging to get advanced tickets to any night or weekend games, until mid-August of course, when Wrigley’s middle name kicks-in and the scalpers are practically giving them away.

So, please help our family get to a game this year and help yourself to some Major League bragging rights! Go Cubs!

(Except for THIS year! BELIEVE!!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wrigley Naming Rights for sale on EBay!!

In keeping with the prevalent spirit of my great city, I'm auctioning off the naming rights to my dog Wrigley on EBay. She's a six-year old purebreed Laborador Retreiver. Very high energy and great with kids. In other words, something you'd be proud to have your name attached to. (Fully housebroken)

I've started the bidding at $1000, the approximate amount of money it takes to send a family of four to a game at the actual Wrigley Field. If you're interested in putting in a bid, here's the link: http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=wrigley+naming+rights&category0=

Friday, February 29, 2008

We know you're not from around here

Here being the City of Chicago. This is how we can tell: you nose your car into your garage. It’s a dead give-away you were raised in Suburbia or Michigan or Peru—someplace, anyplace, that’s not here.

When my husband and I got our first garage parking space at our old apartment on Newport, I remember him wanting to nose the car in (He’s from out of town.) and I had to set him straight. “It’s not the way we do it here.”

I went off on some explanation of how it’s safer to back the car into the garage because then you don’t have to blindly back it out into the alley. And how it’s…it’s…well, it’s just how we do it here. It’s how I was taught. It’s the way the neighbors do it. It’s the way my parents always parked at our old two-flat on Springfield. Always. And it’s a habit that’s been apparently very difficult for them to break. They moved to the suburbs nearly forty years ago and even though they have a 120-foot driveway that opens onto a quiet residential street, Mom and Dad still back their cars 120 feet into that garage.

All up and down our alley I notice the people who nose-in versus back-in to their garages. All the old-timers back-in. All the younger couples nose-in. Except for us. Because I’m from around here.

But this especially snowy winter I’ve had to, on occasion, gulp: nose-in. I know. I’m terrified someone might think I’m from Michigan too! But I came to the realization, a different realization than my “it’s safer” rationale, as to why we all learned to back our cars into our Chicago garages: rear-wheel drive. In the olden days, almost all cars were rear-wheel drive. And it made sense if you were navigating an icy snow-packed Chicago alley in the dead of winter that you’d need your “driving” wheels to pull you into your space. Which is why, this winter, I was forced to nose-in. My car has front wheel drive. As do most cars made these days, except for those fancy high-performance cars that don’t adapt so well to family life (or at least that’s what I tell myself.) (Then again, 0 to 60 in 4.89 seconds could probably plaster an eleven-year old against a seat so firmly he’d be rendered unable to bruise his brother’s ribs with a spelling book. Hmmm.)

Anyway, my point is maybe all these whippersnappers pulling into their garages nose-first are onto something. One day after getting stuck in the alley and having to rock the car ad nauseum, I almost gave up and parked on the street, until it occurred to me to pull in nose-first. Worked like a charm.

It’s not a habit I want to get into, however. There’s something very satisfying about backing a vehicle into a tight garage space in only one try, without having to jockey it back and forth. Perhaps the only reason this might be satisfying is that it so rarely happens when my kids are in the car. For reasons similar to my husband’s need to turn off the radio when performing a particularly harrowing driving maneuver, I find myself screaming at my boys to stop asking so many questions while Mommy’s trying to shear off the imitation wood trim from the side of the door—I mean park the car in the garage.

So as soon as that alley clears of snow piles, ice ridges and Khumbu-style seracs (June?) you can rest assured, I’ll be back to backing in—because I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression—that I actually like the imitation wood-trim on my garage.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Gratefully Deadicated

I need a miracle. Or rather, I’m requesting one.

Have you ever been to a Grateful Dead concert? Don’t you wish the whole world would operate that way? I started thinking about this yesterday when I was driving into the city from Aurora, in the middle of what would become a major winter storm. Everyone on the road was cool. I know! I found it hard to believe myself. When was the last time you drove anywhere and nobody tailgated, honked, cut you off, sent you their love via the middle finger?

It reminded me of Grateful Dead concerts, like I’d stepped into a world where everyone treated everyone else courteously simply because it was the right thing to do. I miss the Dead, but last May I made it to a Dark Star Orchestra concert and in many ways, it was very much the same.

For those who’ve never been, let me enlighten you. At a Grateful Dead concert, everyone is nice.

I know, I know. You’re thinking—everyone’s also really high. But I don’t believe that’s true, although I do think it’s what many of us would like believe, an excuse for why the whole rest of the world doesn’t operate this way.

At the DSO concert, I made my way to the bar to buy a drink and found myself in that Homo sapiens, kill or be killed, survival of the fittest mode: suspiciously eyeing others at the bar, the people in line behind them. Who was going to thrust themselves to the front, wave their twenty dollars and demand the bartender’s attention, completely out of turn? But I’d forgotten one thing: even though this wasn’t a Grateful Dead Concert—it was a Grateful Dead crowd.

Nobody shoved, pushed, behaved rudely or with any manner of incivility. The folks in line at the Dominick’s deli counter, or the ladies in line for the bathroom at the Lyric Opera should take note. At the Lyric, of all places, I’ve been cut-in front of and pushed aside by women in Vera Wang gowns. And don’t get me started on the taxi queue after the show.

As I sat and waited my turn for the bartender’s attention, it made me sad the whole world couldn’t operate this way. And why doesn’t it? Because when you expect to be treated poorly, all your defenses are up, hackles are raised and we’re in that fight or flight mentality. And in our new service economy, who isn’t tired of being treated poorly?

At the DSO concert, one woman was distraught. She’d lost her backpack. She’d put it under a bench so she could dance—it had her keys, her wallet, her “life!” in it, she said. “We’ll find it,” I told her and I was certain of it, too. “C’mon, you know this crowd. No one’s going to take anything that isn’t theirs.”

We started our search—people danced out of our way, offered to help us. In the days after 9/11, our country seemed to have captured this spirit for a while. We smiled at each other more, talked congenially on the bus, were more considerate in traffic or standing in lines, but that kindness seemed to quickly fade away. We like to think our society is so advanced, but we can’t even remember a basic tenet my children learned in kindergarten: Play nice.

We found the backpack, undisturbed, misplaced under a different bench. Forget global warming or economic meltdown, if we as human beings can’t do more to be nice to each other, help each other, what’s the point of being advanced at all? Like I said, I’m requesting a miracle. Or maybe just a more peaceful way to buy salami.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Book Signing Thursday January 24th

I'll be at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville
Thursday January 24th at 7pm

I'll be joined by my dear friend, Rick Kaempfer, who will be talking about his recently released novel, Severance, a humorous and satirical send-up of the current state of the radio industry. Rick has spent the better part of the last 20 or so years in Chicago radio, producing such shows as the Loop's Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, and more recently John Records Landecker on Oldies 104.3. Rick is a terrific humorist (for proof just check out his blog under my links at right, or his new Cubs website at www.justonebadcentury.com!)

Anderson's Bookshop
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
Tel: 630-355-2665

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Book Signing January 16th

I'll be participating in Local Author Night
7pm January 16th at
The Book Cellar
4736 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL
773.293.2665

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Grinch should steal my Iambic Pentameter

It came without lights.
It came without heat.
It came without microwaves, freezers or TV.
Christmas Eve came, in spite of ComEd, in spite of the storm that had raged overhead.
On December 23rd at 2:30 am, the power went out
when the wind snapped the line with a flash and a spark.
Afterward our whole neighborhood was dark.
In the silence that remained when the electricity stopped humming, I could hardly sleep without all that thrumming.
But roll over I did, my confidence high,
ComEd would get the power up soon, I thought with a sigh.
Fifteen hours later as I shivered in my shoes,
I stared down the alley looking for crews.
There were none to be found, they were nowhere in sight.
Just the line on the ground, guarded by a truck,
fenced off with some tape and I knew we were…
stuck
for much longer with no light
and no heat, and suddenly all the fireplace-blanket-board-games-candlelight quaintness wasn’t so neat.
But Christmas was in two days, Oh what would we do?
The children despaired—would Santa come through?
Well, Santa was used to the cold at the Pole,
but Mama thought frozen limbs were getting old.
We clipped off the fingers of gloves, like in the stories Dickens told.
It worked like a charm, but looking like Oliver Twist was not an enduring way to keep warm.
I’m going to mix my metaphors here, does it matter? From Seuss to Dickens to Clement C. Moore. What difference could it make, in poetry this poor?
When up in the kitchen there arose such a clatter,
Our old telephone ringing—
the one with touch-tones, with no battery or charger, but a beautiful dial tone.
We ran to pick up and began to chatter,
with Pat The Electrician, who thought of his idea so lively and quick,
I knew in an instant it wasn’t a trick.
He’d hook up our furnace to our rented generator,
Hallelujah, we had heat about thirty minutes later.
Our Christmas savior was an electrician this year,
(No offense to the Carpenter we also hold dear)
Because as soon as we were warm there was nothing else to fear.
We think that our Christmas is about presents and toys
About feasts and trees, but it’s not all that noise.
Christmas is about time spent together, about giving and caring,
About being family through all kinds of weather.
The power was restored, late on Christmas Eve. What a thrill!
Though Christmas dinner was strange, cheeseburgers on the grill.
A lot of food was ruined, but we emerged mostly unharmed,
But with a new realization that has me disarmed.
Other families go through this all day and all night,
Unfortunately for them, there’s no end in sight.
We should always be thankful for heat,
for all of our abundance, the food that we eat.
Perhaps we should make counting blessings our new holiday tradition.
Let’s start right now.
This year we’re especially grateful, and how,
for our hard-earned new insight, our family, our home,
One union electrician,
and the end of this poem.