Christmas at our house was a resounding success, except for the part where we lost power for several hours and the generator refused to work. Oh, and the little matter of JB’s mother having to make an emergency visit to a hospital in Salem during their drive home because it seemed JB’s father was having himself a heart attack.

Thankfully, it was determined his heart was okay, and that the sudden onset of illness was likely the culprit of stomach problems, so . . . hey, who wants a holiday meal at my house? Anyone? Oh, now, there’s just a small chance of experiencing chronic, terrifying levels of discomfort after eating my food! HAVE ANOTHER COOKIE THEY ARE FILLED WITH EXCRUCIATING PAIN.

We all had a very frightening and sad afternoon yesterday while waiting to see what the doctors said, and I can only imagine how stressed out JB must have been. He got the call — at the point when everyone was still thinking heart attack — while we were puttering around Fred Meyer, and when he gave me the news it was like — I don’t know, like being in a horror movie where the music swells with dread and the previously cheery displays and fluorescent lights are suddenly garish and unspeakable. Like taking a step, and the ground just falls away.

When we lost our electricity on Tuesday night — with that startling shoonk! sound of everything powering off at once — there was a lot of chaos involved with soothing the kids, digging out candles, and taking turns angrily kicking the generator and calling it a useless piece of dogshit, and after that there wasn’t much to do but double up on pajamas and go to bed in the dark. It was hard not to think how close we all are, really, to everything we take for granted just being . . . gone. What do you do when there are no lights, no heat, no hot water — and pretty soon the stores run out of food, and the gas stations are empty? If Seattle can essentially be ground to a halt by a snowfall, how about a major earthquake? Rainier erupting? A bomb? Nothing seemed too farfetched, lying in my bed staring at the ceiling, the house oddly silent without the hum of the heater.

Then, JB’s dad. The phone call, the subsequent confusion and worry.

Everything important in our lives can be taken away at any time. The people we love, the facilities we rely on. It’s the sort of thought that makes me understand on some deeper level why religions exist. I don’t share the beliefs, but I share the desire for comfort in the face of these truths.

So: I suppose I had a few different thoughts about Christmas this year, reflecting on that which is invaluable. Toss out the gifts, turn out the lights, but leave us our loved ones and let us be able to take care of them and keep them fed and warm and safe from harm. That’s all we want.


(JB: ready, in case we need to skin an opossum and roast it over candlelight or something.)


32 Responses to “Comfort”

  1. Anji on December 27th, 2008 2:29 pm

    You have such a goddamn beautiful family. I’m glad everyone’s okay; I follow you on Twitter and was hoping that everthing would go well. I’m happy it did. :o)

  2. SraV on December 27th, 2008 2:30 pm

    Terrifying! So glad to hear that things are okay.

  3. willikat on December 27th, 2008 2:46 pm

    Dude, I have had heartburn so wicked I thought it was a heart attack, and it’s sooo scary. I’m glad that everything turned out OK.

  4. honeybecke on December 27th, 2008 2:56 pm

    What a relief. I am so glad JB’s dad is OK and that it was just a super bad case of stomach eruption that was the cause. I bet he’s (and you all) never been more relieved to have “just a stomach ache”!
    Fun pictures, happy Christmas!

  5. Kate on December 27th, 2008 3:09 pm

    Whew! So glad all is well with JB’s dad; such a scare.

    I totally agree with you about wondering how we’d survive if life as we know it suddenly changed. I mean, I’m not an extremist or anything but I kinda want to go buy vegetable seeds to tuck away *just in case*.

  6. Eric's Mommy on December 27th, 2008 3:29 pm

    So glad JB’s Dad is okay.

    We lost power for 2 days a couple weeks ago due to an ice storm, you don’t realize how much you take things like electricity for granted.

  7. Kim on December 27th, 2008 3:33 pm

    I’m so glad everything turned out okay too.
    We lost power for four days in Florida during one particularly active hurricane season. It felt like the apocalypse had arrived.

  8. Aunt Linda on December 27th, 2008 3:40 pm

    We’ll be there Sunday. Um, don’t worry about cooking or anything. We’ll … uh … eat on the way, yeah, that’s it. We’ll eat on the way. No cookies. Really. AL

  9. Angharad on December 27th, 2008 3:50 pm

    Glad everything turned out well! Happy Holidays to all.

  10. Belle on December 27th, 2008 4:51 pm

    It’s scary that we don’t even know what to do with ourselves without power, do we?. I am always reminded of that old movie, Testament, with Jane Alexander about nuclear destruction and what people have to do in its aftermath. Gawd.

    Glad Dad is ok. Everything and everyone that you rely on gone in an instant is pretty shakey territory.

  11. Maria on December 27th, 2008 5:15 pm

    So true, and beautifully stated. I’m glad your family is OK.

  12. ang on December 27th, 2008 5:22 pm

    we had a power outage tuesday night also… good thing my husband bought a camp stove and fuel a few days before because we had some dumplings boiling on the stove and relatives in town to feed… in the dark.

    the grandparents went to bed early and every other adult (kids were in bed) was dawdling around, contemplating early bed… until the power returned. then we went back to our going to bed waaay to late habits. we are all electricity addicts… individually and communally.

  13. erin on December 27th, 2008 5:33 pm

    Obviously SO glad JB’s Dad is okay, but sorry everyone had to go through that.

    I clicked on to you last night and saw your Twitter about JB’s Dad, and it was right after the commotion died down from my husband’s uncle (who’s like a brother to him, in town for the holiday and staying with us) had a grand mal seizure in our family room last night. We had ambulance and fire truck in our driveway, etc. It was wierd to see someone I know (well, not really, but I FEEL like I know) going through something similar at the same time.

    So, I was thinking about you all today.

    My husband’s uncle is okay too.

  14. Carol on December 27th, 2008 5:38 pm

    Ah, life’s lessons… They’re fine in small doses, on normal ol’ days. It’s when we’re bombarded all at once that things get hairy (and yeah… lessons get learned).

    We woke to no power on Christmas Day. Bad timing. Hell, this whole 9 days of snow was pretty bad timing! No, actually the TIMING was fine; the DURATION sucked!

    Glad everyone’s OK!


  15. Jenny on December 27th, 2008 5:49 pm

    Very true. I watched some movie where this family spent their last Christmas with their mom and it really hit me hard for some reason. I kept thinking who cares what gifts we get or give when what it really comes down to is that we would give everything we have just to keep the people we love with us.

  16. Victoria on December 27th, 2008 5:53 pm

    Love to you and yours.

  17. heather on December 27th, 2008 7:26 pm

    so glad that jb’s dad is okay. xoxo

  18. Michelle on December 27th, 2008 8:02 pm

    You know, last night I had one of those “end of the world” nightmares. It scared the crap out of me. Sometimes it’s just too real. I’m glad that things have settled down now.
    Here’s hoping for some peace and comfort in 2009…

  19. Christine Brandel on December 27th, 2008 8:07 pm

    Whew, glad that JB’s dad is fine, what a scare!

    The family pic is wonderful; you guys look so happy!

    Happy holidays!

  20. Donna on December 27th, 2008 9:52 pm

    Tell JB I have the 98.6 the art of keeping your ass alive book too, and built a pretty good survival kit using that one and another one that I’d have to look up, anyway, he’s got some good ideas.
    My dad and I were talking about what would happen to society if we were to go through another depression, and while those of us who know how to survive would be ok, those of us who don’t would be out beyond thunderdome taking from us who do. How many people know how to farm, raise animals, or can food, sew, bake or do any of the things that we’d have to do? And without electricity because you can’t afford it? Water? Gas? We’ve been thinking about all this too.
    Anyway, glad his dad is okay, that’s some scary shit, that xmas was good, (ya’ll made mine), and that you didn’t freeze!

  21. bessie.viola on December 28th, 2008 3:52 am

    This entry had me teary, and then that picture of JB at the end just killed me. So hilarious… I’m so grateful that all was well in the end.

  22. Kristin C. on December 28th, 2008 8:06 am

    True that. We have had a couple of big health scares…that are still scares because they haven’t been resolved yet…and I just wanted to set fire to all the presents this year and receive the gift of health for my family.
    Itis hard being and adult and having to think about and reflect upon these types of issues….it’s beautiful and frightening to have the capacity to do so.

  23. warcrygirl on December 28th, 2008 10:28 am

    When the end times come and the zombies take over I’m totally coming over to your house for grilled opossum. Never mind the fact that I’m 3,000 miles away. I took your advice on the camera setting and I’d decided that your house has WAY too much natural light because most of my pics turned out too dark or too orangey. Must work on this.

  24. Harper on December 28th, 2008 12:13 pm

    Wow what a action packed holiday! Glad things are well! Love the second picture! Have a Happy New Year

  25. Angella on December 28th, 2008 1:39 pm

    What a great reminder, Linda. Thank you.

  26. #6 on December 28th, 2008 1:53 pm

    Glad everything ended up on a positive note.

    Hopefully the books Santa brought JB say something about checking the working order of the generator BEFORE the power goes out

  27. Lori on December 28th, 2008 8:32 pm

    Glad to hear JB’s dad’s heart is okay, that must have been scary. Also glad you have power again…

    Dylan’s expression in that picture is so so so funny.

  28. Mel on December 29th, 2008 5:43 am

    Glad to hear everything turned out OK! I completely understand the whole sentiment you are speaking of.

    My mom was without power yesterday and the stubborn 78 year old waited until hour 7.5 to call me and let me know she was “quite cold”, “but I’ll be fine” and “no I won’t come to you’re house and sleep in your perfectly warm and toasty spare bedroom, I’ll be fine” grrrr So as I drove to her house, the car stocked with thermoses of hot water and any heating devises I could think of, I realized that my dumb-ass brother lives 3 blocks from her and heats his house with fireplaces! They haven’t spoken in years, nothing ground shattering that kept them apart but the stubborn German blood running thru their veins. I just can’t understand how he could sit there, so close, and not reach out to make sure his mother was ok, offer something hot to eat or drink…SOMETHING! That moment of realizing how selfish and petty people can be made my heart ache with sorrow, it still does as I type this.

    In the end her power came back on shortly after I delivered her warmth supplies. Thank god because I don’t know how long her stubborn German blood would have kept her in her little apartment shivering before she caved and came to our house, a whole 1/2 hour away!

  29. Josh on December 29th, 2008 3:04 pm

    You can go ahead and tell JB that last picture made me actually utter a phrase I had vowed never to utter: “I’ll add those to my ‘to read’ list.” (hyuck hyuck, reading ain’t nerdy no mo!)

  30. Amanda on December 30th, 2008 10:59 am

    You just made me cry.

    I’m glad you’re all okay and you have each other!

  31. Emily on December 30th, 2008 10:00 pm

    On the Benjamin Button comment. Pretty good, but perhaps not worth the ass ache. Get it on video.

  32. Jenn Bo on January 3rd, 2009 1:12 am

    My sympathies on the stressful portions of your Christmas Day.

    My giggles for the expression of Dylan – that little fella has the most adorable face.

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