What I Learned From a Christmas Without Electricity

This year, in the spirit of simplicity, I celebrated the holidays without electricity.  I wanted to return to nature, test my ability to survive without modern conveniences, imagine myself as Thoreau or Ingalls-Wilder, embracing the important things that can’t be bought with money.

OR a freak hurricane-level windstorm hit Nova Scotia on Christmas Day and knocked out the grid for something like 100,000 residences and I was forced to eat cold stuffing in the dark while I grumbled to myself for nine hours about my phone battery level.

Whatever.  The important part is lessons were learned.  Those lessons are thus:

1.   It is not impossible to cook on a woodstove or a fireplace.  It IS impossible to cook on a woodstove when the wind is so strong that it blows across the top of the chimneys so fast that it acts like a damper, not allowing any oxygen down to fuel the flames (or when it does, it sends it down so fast, it extinguishes said flames).

2.  Cold stuffing is actually pretty good.  And let’s face it – some of us only endure the whole exhausting ritual of a holiday meal so that we can eat too much stuffing without being judged anyway, right?  But when you can’t cook, the rules go out the window and it moves to the next level.  How about rounding out the stuffing-based repast with appetizers of chocolates, sides of cookies and pie, with a box of wine for dessert?*

3.  Wine will stay cold in a fridge for up to nine hours without power.

4.  Wine makes you give less of a shit about what you’re missing on Netflix and Facebook.  And it’s Christmassy AF.

5.  The pet snake that you are keeping an eye on for a neighbour will not, in fact, die without his heat lamp for the aforementioned nine hours, despite your desperate attempts to determine this without being able to reach that neighbour or being able to frantically Google “snakes named Joe”.

6.  There is someone living within 300 feet of your house who named their network “Don’t try to steal this, yo”, and they still had power.  You totally could have stolen that, yo, if you hadn’t had so much wine, thereby dulling your password-deducing senses.  (This challenge has now been added to your New Year’s Resolution list.)

7.  The dog cannot, despite her firm belief that she can, scare the wind into submission by barking.

8.  It is not paranoid to have a box full of survival stuff in case of emergencies.  Those candles, oil lamps, and flashlights came in very handy.  It does, however, require some modifications, such as including more chocolate, more wine, and more books about wizards or sexy Scotsmen and maybe not quite so many books about edible forest foliage or igloo-building.

9.  When parking at the gas station to charge your phone in the car and check your voice mail, be wary of drunk holiday revelers who will repeatedly slam their car door open against your car, while shouting, “I KNOW I’m hitting the other car!  Be quiet!” to their mates.  Also, send a note to Santa for credit on next year’s nice list for recognizing that the anger you were feeling was less about the dents and more about being jealous that she was drunk and you weren’t.  Yet.

10.  Accept that you maybe wouldn’t make quite as good a pioneer as you sometimes think you would.  Even though you really like camping, you also really like hot water and computer games.

11.  It is NOT advisable to attempt to pick up dog poop on a cloudy night when the streetlights are out and you forgot to bring the flashlight.  It IS advisable to remember, though, roughly where that dog poop was deposited when you sleepily take the dog out again in the morning.  (Don’t worry – I did remember.  But I feel like it cannot be emphasized enough.)

12.  Despite your firm conviction that the Universe is pissed at you in a way that suggests Charles Dickens might, in fact, be your personal life-story author, there were likely at least a few (hundred thousand) people in Nova Scotia with it worse than you on Christmas Day this year, and perhaps, just maybe, a few (billion) outside of Nova Scotia with it worse than you all the other days of the year.  Possibly.  But regardless, that pie would have been a lot better warmed up, right?

Well, I can’t say this Christmas wasn’t in keeping with the rest of 2017, so there is something to be said for staying on-brand.  But let’s try a little harder in 2018, shall we?

Please note: A much-deserved shoutout to all the Nova Scotia Power employees who put themselves out there to get most of us back on the grid by day’s end.  Your Christmas definitely sucked more than ours.

*I’m not saying I did this.  Salad can also be part of a well-balanced cold meal, or so I’ve heard.