The bedroom is dark. I look for the bright red display of the correct time from the alarm clock on the night stand. Nothing. Polly is awake, looking at her phone. She says it is 7 o’clock.
I inch my way to the bathroom. No lights. Polly calls DTE. They ask for our phone number. They don’t have a customer with that number. I say, “Call Consumers Power.” She does. They don’t have any record of us either.
I stumble downstairs to my office and grope through my files to locate one entitled “Utilities.” Ah Ha. We are serviced by Great Lakes Energy. I call them. The recorded lady’s voice informs me that they have an outage due to high wind damage that affects one third of their grid. About 30,000 homes are without electricity. All of their crews are in the field, but they are certain we will be without power at least until after Christmas.
I call Home Depot on my cell phone. Yes, they have generators. A few. And they are going fast. I throw on some blue jeans and a sweater. I can be there in half an hour. The first obstacle; the garage door opener doesn’t work. Of course not. It’s electric. So is everything else in our world, it seems.
Some tugging and pulling gets the door open and I am at the Petoskey Home Depot before 8 AM. I am looking at a $999.00 generator. Gas powered. It must be kept outdoors. The cord which connects it to the house looks like a power source for a trip to the Moon.
They tell me a full tank takes about six gallons, and will run the machine for about 9 hours. I thank the man, buy some flashlight batteries, and head back home. The gas station is dark. I have half a tank. I make a mental note to fill the tank.
Son Tom Jr., his wife, Julie, their son Patrick, and Father Charlie Irvin are scheduled to come North tomorrow for Christmas dinner and an overnight stay. We call Tom with the bad news. He urges us to come to East Lansing.
Polly vetoes the idea of going down state. The thought of packing clothes, plus all the food we have put in for the holiday weighs heavily against that strategy.
We call the Perry Hotel in Petoskey and reserve a room for two nights. Then we call Tom Jr. and tell him of our plans, with apologies for cancelling the Christmas festivities.
Shortly, Tom calls back. Thankfully we have working cell phones. He has not given up on a family Christmas. They are coming up to Harbor Springs as planned. He has reserved two more rooms at the Perry Hotel.
So be it. Christmas at the Perry. It can be fun. An adventure of sorts. Polly gets on the phone calling around for dinner reservations. A little dicey at the last minute.
I decide to go back into town to get gas for the car. I had managed to get the garage door back down. Now I am shoving it back up. Damn thing weighs a ton.
About five minutes on the road and the phone in the car rings. It’s Polly. Her message is short and ecstatic. “We have power!”
The lights are on at the gas station. I fill the tank and hurry home. With a little effort, I hook the garage door back up to the opener, and delight to see it close automatically. Inside, the house is already warmer. The gas powered fireplace is back in operation, and Polly is in the kitchen busy baking brownies for tomorrow’s dessert.
Funny thing, she says. She was listening, on the battery powered portable radio, to an Episcopalian Mass. Shortly after she found it on the dial, the congregation began to say the Our Father. Sitting on the couch in the cold house, a green Michigan State Spartan blanket over her pink bathrobe, she joined in saying the prayer. Episcopalians say “which art in heaven” and Catholics say “who art in heaven,” but it’s the same Lord’s Prayer.
Praying felt good. She thought, we ask God for things, we thank Him for things, but we don’t often just praise Him. So she did. She said another Our Father, an Ave, and a Glory Be for good measure.
Within a minute, the lights went on.
Praise God, your Christmas will be merry, too.