Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Traditions: Let It Snow!

Now that the Christmas tree needles and New Year's Eve confetti have settled, we find ourselves in the middle of plain old winter.  I know that a lot of people love this time of year...the skiing, the snow angels, the special stillness that comes with a freshly fallen snow.  I've got to admit--it's not my favorite.  I hate being cold.  No really...I hate it.  It's on my list of the top three things that I hate: going to the dentist, having hiccups, and being cold.
This is me...disgruntledly bundled in my husband's 13 pairs of pajama pants in an effort to get warm.
This 2 bedroom apartment had 18 inches of heating coils.  Total.
Result: much grumping from Robin.
Nevertheless, winter does have its advantages.  My favorite part of winter is the possibility of snow days.  Those glorious days when you wake up to find that school (or work) has been canceled, and you have all day to stay home without the inconvenience of having to stay in bed with some ailment or another.  You can just play.

Another bit that I love about winter is when the power goes out.  Now, I understand the dangers of power outages.  And I know that when big storms come, people can lose their homes and even their lives.  But what I'm talking about is the little power outages: a fallen tree, ice on the lines, those sorts of things.  The power goes out for a few hours, and the world stops.  I remember when we lost power once in college.  It was a winter miracle.  We all turned off our computers and wandered into the dorm lobbies as if awakening from a dream.  We brought out guitars and board games.  We stopped stressing over papers and projects and looked one another in the face.  It was magical.

Growing up in the Giberson household, power outages brought a different sort of magic.  I'll give you the basic rundown.  My dad has been the mayor of our town for as long as I can remember.  He is also the emergency management coordinator.  And he grew up in a time when every power outage lasted at least two weeks.  So when the lights went out, he kicked it into high gear.  He frantically ran around the house telling us to fill the bathtubs up with water, collect buckets of snow, find the flashlights and the candles, dig out extra blankets.  It was an emergency, and it was a serious matter.  I can appreciate that.  It's his job.  But after the preparations were made, and my dad was busy tracking down the electric company, the governor, the national guard, etc., my mom, my sisters, and I would light a candle and gather around the dining room table with a deck of cards.  We would play rummy and crazy eights, and we would laugh and enjoy the opportunity to spend time together.

I remember one night in particular, we were hit in the dead of winter with a nasty storm.  This time, the power really was likely to be out for quite a while.  It was cold, and my dad was particularly frantic.  We Giberson girls were unfazed; we commenced our normal ritual of card playing and simple silliness.  In the midst of our game, we asked each other "Would you rather..." questions.  For example, "Would you rather be a princess, a mermaid, or the manager of a Dairy Queen?"  And we told jokes.  On this particular night, the joke that made us all laugh the hardest was: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, and it lands on a mime, does anybody care?"
The Far Side comic where the joke originated.
Unfortunately, our laughter was too raucous for such a serious emergency, and my dad insisted that we all go right to sleep.  My mom was still laughing when she climbed into bed, and my dad demanded to know what was so funny.  She told him the joke, and he answered with a disgruntled harrumph and rolled over.  A few minutes later, the bed started to shake.  My dad battled to maintain his serious demeanor, but in the end, the laughter won out.  He just couldn't help himself.

That night has become iconic to me.  I think of it every time the power goes out.  It reminds me not to panic.  It reminds me not to take myself or life's little emergencies too seriously.  And most of all, it reminds me to relish the simple pleasures of time spent unplugged in the company of my family.  Isn't that what we all really need?  A little time away from a screen, engaged face-to-face over a candle and a deck of playing cards?  It's become a fundamental ritual and honored tradition that I have continued into my married life.  Whenever the power goes out, it's time to reconnect over a game of rummy.  And no matter how cold I am, the light of the candle dancing on my cards and the faces around the table reminds me that I am home, and life is good.
So as you are preparing for the next big storm, saving water in milk jugs and battling crowds for batteries and non-perishable food, remember to include a candle and a pack of cards in your emergency kit.  And if all else fails, allow yourself some simple silliness.  What do you think?  Would you rather be a princess, a mermaid, or the manager of a Dairy Queen?


  1. I love this. Thank you Robin. Well done.

  2. Mermaid, definitely mermaid.

  3. Well I guess I will be the manager of a Dairy Queen. Free ice cream anyone?