Christmas, Mother Night, and a Period of Low Power

By , December 27, 2009

This Christmas has been unusual for its lack of wind. On the 22nd I wrapped up my Christmas communications, sending out our Christmas newsletter electronically, writing a separate email to my cousins, reaching out to some people I’ve not corresponded with at Christmas time before. The wind wasn’t particularly strong that day. Since then, we’ve had 15 minutes of low level charging, tops! The whole time Beth and Kim were here, we were on low power. We managed to have enough light, and the house was adequately filled with Christmas music, but that was the limit. No computer use, no movies, no recharging. And, to my Christmas correspondents, I sent one last message, then effectively dropped off the face of the earth.

The Christmas branch became an old-fashioned Christmas tree. We’ve all heard about the “old days,” when Christmas lights were live candles. A Christmas tree, if a home had one at all, was customarily set up on Christmas Eve. The parents lit the candles, then stood at the ready with sand or water to douse any combustion while calling in the children for a brief viewing before extinguishing the candles. I think we had the Christmas lights on for half an hour, total.

What has been most frustrating is that almost every day’s weather forecast has predicted adequate charging wind. Inevitably, these predictions got scaled back later in the day, or the actual winds fell far short of the predicted intensity. Today’s forecast offers no hope for the next day or two. We’re almost out of rechargeable batteries for headlamps. My electric razor ran out Christmas day, as did our phones’ Bluetooth headsets. The computer batteries are dwindling. We’re contemplating firing up the gas generator—we’re growing that desperate!

But, today is December 27th, the 2nd day of Christmas by the old reckoning—which I don’t intend to refer to from here on out—it’s as useless as trying to convince people that, there being no year zero, the 21st century didn’t start until 2001. Mathematical logic is useless in the face of popular ignorance!

It is Saint John’s day, apparently the disciple John, and it’s also known as Mother Night, an ironic coincidence for our family. This is the anniversary of the date when my mother, Gertie Zeiger, passed away.

Mom didn’t want to die at Christmas time, because she didn’t want us to be sad at Christmas. We told her that whatever day she died, we couldn’t help but remember her especially at Christmas, so it didn’t matter. The whole family gathered together at our parents’ home that year, and had one last holiday together. It does cast a shadow, but it’s a bittersweetness, without which, as I’ve argued before, it’s not a proper Christmas.

As I write this, we’ve passed the hour of her passing, which came just before dawn. With Beth and Kim delivered to the ferry yesterday, and a nasty thaw turning our Christmas snows to deep slush on the trail, we’ll be sticking close to home, engaging in quiet activities (that don’t need electricity, of course) and remembering Mom.

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