December 24th, 2013. Christmas Eve. Already it feels colder than yesterday. I get the kids up at dawn and we do what we can. I stopped going outside to work on the generator as that was becoming a disaster and it is real hard to work in the cold when you have no where to temporarily warm up. The last thing I need is pneumonia.

Amy did something this morning that was phenomenal. The day before, she figured how to make an indoor cooking set up. She had two small aluminum loaf pans, a cooling rack over them and 3 or 4 buffet burners. It was a make shift stove. Now Amy was formerly the makeshift princess, but the following upgraded her to makeshift “Goddess”.

She starts pulling out some food on this “stove” and starts making breakfast. She cuts up smoked sausage, grits, scrambled eggs and butter toasted bread. Looks ambitious. It takes a long time, about 2 hours, since the burners will only heat to what would be a low setting on a regular stove. To my amazement, it’s coming together and smelling good. Wouldn’t you know when all was said and done, she prepares all this stuff and times everything so that it is all warm at the same time when we are ready to eat. It’s hard to cook and have everything warm at the same time under normal circumstances. How she did this, who knows.

While Amy is cooking, I tell her about the room and that I can’t cancel the first day. I suggest she consider her and the kids staying at the hotel and I’ll stay at home and watch the fort. She suggests we discuss it with our kids over breakfast.

We sit down, and eat this wonderful meal and the mood is quite somber. I think the changes to our holiday and the cold are beginning to get to us. We ask the question just as we did the day before about should we stay at home. This time…silence…crickets. As it gets colder it seems less likely that we can stay here. I told everyone that walking around in our darkened, empty house is like watching scenes in the movie Titanic. As the camera passes by each room, rooms that people lived in, you can see that there was a presence of energy there but it has vanished. Left behind is this hulking monolith called a home that isn’t able to take care of us any longer. We make the decision that for the remainder of the afternoon, we’ll get clothes and things together and go to the hotel. For my family I’m relieved. I can stay there, but I’ll have less worry if they are in warmth.

Why would I stay in this frozen home, some might ask? To protect it of course. At least the best I can. We have lived in this home a number of years and I’ve been a police officer even longer. I know that the opportunity of empty dark houses can be tempting to your average thief. I figured I would stay at the house and give any potential intruders something else to think about. I’m no Superman, and material possessions don’t really matter, but after all that’s going on with the power outage, the last thing I want to add on to that plate is coming home to a broken in and ransacked house.

So off to the hotel we go. As we are leaving I grab a small set of Christmas lights that were sitting on a shelf in the garage. They’ve been there for a couple years but for some reason today they caught my eye and seemed like a good idea. Our room wasn’t ready yet so we drive around for a while looking at the beauty that has caused so much damage. There are so many trees and branches down. Beauty and Braun are everywhere.

One thing that was so nice while we were riding was hearing the voicemail messages from three of our family members that heard that we were powerless and they opened their homes to us for food on Christmas. My mother even said that if we couldn’t stay we were welcomed to take some plates and eat them later.

Once we check in and go to our room, we quickly remember the benefit to having a warm place to stay and sleep. Tonight we relax, watch a little TV and eat pizza together. Later on I go home for the next evolution. Before I left for home I take out the string of lights. It looked a bit pitiful, but I’ll have to admit it lifted our spirits about Christmas just a little bit. I’m glad everyone liked it.

The next evolution makes me think about the movie Home Alone, you know the first one, where the kid is rigging his home to fend off the burglars. I wish I could do that but in this day and age, I would get sued 20 times over for half of the stuff he did. I did put together some makeshift weapons; made our bedroom into the “Panic Room” and fortified every entry point I could. I couldn’t do like the movie and actually hurt an intruder with, ornaments, or a barbecue grill heater, but I could make sure they made a hell of a lot of noise.

Up next in the evolution…Christmas Day.

Will it be Merry–come back and see Constant Reader.

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