Typically it’s March that roars in like a lion, but this year, November laid down her wrath.
I began the month without power in Sandy’s aftermath, thankful that my house made it through unscathed. We celebrated our daughter’s birthday in the dark, relieved she didn’t blow out ALL the candles. My husband drove to Pennsylvania for gas. We made a game of opening the fridge, grabbing what you wanted, and slamming the door within 2.7 seconds. We slept on the living room floor in front of the fireplace.
And we told stories.
We camped at our neighbor’s house one night for the camaraderie and everyone was thrilled to see me. “The author’s here! She can tell us stories!”
Turns out, I’m not good at inventing stories off the cuff. I stammered. I hemmed. I hawed.
I had nothin’.
The children were far more creative. They whipped out the scatological humor and giggled uncontrollably. There were unicorns throwing up rainbows and elves pooping marshmallows. Hmm, was any of this usable picture book fodder? Probably not.
But it was hilarious. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I can’t remember the last time I saw this many kids interacting with one another sans DEVICE. No Wii, no Nintendo DS, no iPads, no iPhones. I bet the Angry Birds were even angrier for being neglected.
Being without power reminded me of mankind’s history as storytellers. Nothing that beeps or blinks can replace the connection we feel to one another when we’re immersed in a story. It brings us together and holds us together. Years from now, my daughter will most certainly reflect more fondly on the blackout birthday than any other.
Once we got our power back, I was relieved, but also a little sad. I wanted the storytelling nights to continue. But instead, the kids flipped on the Wii, I launched onto the internet, and my husband turned to CNN. We thought we were re-engaging with the world, but instead, we were disengaging from each other.
So I made a New Year’s resolution in November: to have a fake blackout twice a month. Nothing electronic. Just the fireplace and stories.
But maybe I’ll write mine down first.