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…
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.