Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When the Lights Go Out

The day before Thanksgiving is not a day for slackers. And since I can potentially fall into this category, I made sure I was up early, considering the kiddies didn't have school, quietly making breakfast and coffee so's not to wake the little heathens, er, darlings. I saw hubby off to work and finished some housecleaning - about two hour's worth during which the children finally woke up and I made their breakfast, helped them dress, and also served as referee when, from time to time, they would have minor outbursts and otherwise start punching each other.

Fortunately for me I managed to get most everything that I had to do done and just in time. I showered and dressed and started making lunch - a simple tuna casserole - as an old friend of mine was coming over to visit. We did have a nice and relaxing afternoon, considering, but soon enough it was time for her to go and for me to perform the Dreaded Six-Letter Family Ritual like I always do, wash a mountain of dishes, and then roll up my sleeves, slap on an apron, and really get to work.

With my son's and daughter's help, I made seven pumpkin pies from scratch, popped the cranberries for the sauce, sliced, sugared, and buttered the yams, slopped the green bean casserole together, and submerged Tom, the 23 pound turkey, in a cold water bath. I was hosting dinner the next day and wanted to be prepared.

Let's just say everything went as smoothly as it could with children running to and fro, tussling over who gets to help Mom with the pumpkin pies as son nearly sneezes into the bowl of raw filling, daughter insists she just washed her hands but has black lines under her fingernails, and the cat jumps on the kitchen table and onto the floured surface that's waiting for the pie crust. Oh yes, dear reader, that's just a sampling of what it's like around my house.

As I juggled all this, the hours were creeping away. Soon it was eight o'clock, then nine. Somehow, the children had listened to me enough to put on their pajamas, but kept running up and down the stairs. They were having a high time of it. At ten to ten, under threat of bodily harm and imprisonment, I ordered them upstairs (for the hundredth time at least) to start brushing their teeth and that's when it happened.

The lights flickered out for a few seconds but popped back on again. It was a little odd. We had been under a high wind advisory, but there was no real bad weather. Just a cold rain. I didn't think much of it. I had taken the last two pies out of the oven, had been washing dishes and utensils, and was nearly finished with everything (not counting the next morning). Not bad considering it was ten thirty. Of course, without my constant supervision, the kids still hadn't brushed their teeth! (Now you know why I'm half-nuts...)

What happened next?

The lights really went out!

The house plunged into darkness and I could hear terrified calls for help from the upstairs bathroom. Of course, inside I was howling with laughter. Serves the little scamps right! If they would have listened to me in the first place (brush your teeth and go to bed) about two hours ago they wouldn't be in their current predicament. And on the outside I was groping about for the matches because, wonder upon wonders, the flashlight was dead ( who could have been playing with the flashlight?) Just as I struck a match, the kiddies came stumbling, huddled together, into the kitchen.

We lit several candles, found a working flashlight, and I rekindled the fire from the coals that remained from when my friend had been over hours before, because when the lights go out, so does the heat. The kids were even more excited, if that was possible, and were having a great time of it, for some unknown reason running about the dark parts of the house and tripping and falling or running into each other. I finished covering and putting away the food and the pies. Soon the kids were hatching plans.

"Can we all sleep in front of the fireplace tonight?" they asked, hopefully.
"Are you crazy?!" I exclaimed. "I'm sleeping in my bed." The last thing I needed was to sleep on the floor the day before I had to cook a turkey and put on a dinner. I'd never be able to stand up straight and walk the next day.
Hubby added, "Are you sure? There's no heat."

I don't like to pull my Laura Ingalls Card out unnecessarily, but I had to. I had earned the moniker "Laura Ingalls" from the time when I shared with a group of friends how I had grown up. It was the first and the last time that I had done this because, personally, I think they were just plain-old jealous that they hadn't lived like the pioneers as I had.

So I pulled the card, told my kids why we didn't have to sleep in front of the fireplace (making my rendition of Little House in the Big Woods brief), started snuffing out the candles, and made my way upstairs.

"Just put an extra blanket on the bed," I said over my shoulder as they scrambled up behind me, "and you'll be fine."
"Mom," daughter pants, "can I sleep with a candle in my room?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," I agreed, "and I'll be the first one to come and visit you in the burn unit tomorrow. NOT!" I said firmly.

Who were these kids and where did they come from? Planet Pyro?

I went and got an extra sweatshirt and a pair of thick socks to put on each of them. My son had his favorite dinosaur tucked under his arm and my daughter had her pillow. They were waiting by the end of the bed, looking at us expectantly.

"Oh, alright!" I exclaimed, "you can sleep with us."

Hubby skooched over to make room in the bed, thankfully it's king-sized. The kids clambered up and I tucked them in, safe and snug. I was the last one to get in; we were stacked up like cord wood (Laura Ingalls here I come) when the cat jumped in too, curling himself into a ball at the foot of the bed, right next to my feet (what's new?).

By this time it was midnight. I set my cell phone alarm (six thirty and the turkey come early) and somehow, balanced precariously on the edge of the bed, with an elbow wedged into my rib cage, unable to move my legs, and with only half of my body covered by the blankets, I managed to fall asleep.

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