Christmas didn’t arrive yesterday morning with a jolly elf dressed in a red suit, suspenders and a plush cap riding a sleigh. No, not even close. Christmas came yesterday at 6:22 a.m. with a crew of burly men dressed in tan or orange shirts with safety harnesses and hard hats riding bucket trucks. Instead of opening packages first thing, we pulled up our lawn chairs and watched them plant two new power poles, and then settled in to enjoy the sight of lines being run. We are on such a steep hill, they decided to hook up the wires for our house and our nearby neighbor the old fashioned way, a ladder for one and a man with spiked shoes and a leather strap climbing the other.
By 10:15, our house was wired and ready for electricity. Our jolly and kind ‘elves’ moved on down the road, getting everyone else on our feeder line hooked up so that a little after five yesterday evening, they flipped a switch and sweet electricity once again flooded the lines and – Oh my! I have lights in my bathroom, my ceiling fan works, I can have hot water all the time! Karl baked an apple pie in the oven not on the grill! We went to bed last night, Karl happy because he had his coffee maker plugged in and set to have coffee hot and waiting when he awoke, and me smiling at the actual best part of having electricity back… the peace that comes from a hundred generators now sitting quietly. The profound absence of that incessant rumble. I awoke several times in the night to listen to night sounds of frogs and the wind sighing in the tree, and taking note that a different neighbor’s generator was not running for the first time in the 77 days we’ve been back on island.
Heroes come in lots of sizes and situations. My heroes right now are about 900 men who have flooded our territory with their willingness and hard work with one goal – to get the power back on. On Christmas Eve, a crew was at the bottom of the hill dropping off a new power pole.
We took them some Christmas cookies – baked on the gas grill, I said goodbye to them and added, “See you on Tuesday.” I assumed they were taking Christmas off. He smiled. “No, Ma’am, we’ll be here in the morning. We came here to work.” The three men who wired our house, Don, Chris and Lexie, are from South Carolina. They all left family behind for Christmas, Chris’ two little girls opened packages from Santa without their Daddy yesterday. Along with their mom and dad, those little girls sacrificed for me, though they don’t know it. I do. I appreciate it more than they know, not just because of the electricity that is now coursing happily through the veins of my home, but also because it renews my faith in people. There’s been so much ugliness this year – the news is filled with hate and anger, violence and unforgiveness. Just like the power being on has restored peaceful quiet to my island neighborhood, the sacrifice and kindness of the linemen has restored a hope in my soul that goodness and selflessness can prevail.
Peace and love this Christmas! (and light!)