Sandy beaches. Family vacations and walks on the boardwalk with dripping ice cream cones on a sizzling, summer afternoon. Now, the words “Sandy” and “beaches” appear in headlines telling the story of the storm that blasted up the East Coast destroying the shoreline, ripping apart seaside boardwalks, and swallowing entire neighborhoods in its path.
We were off from school for a week with no power. We passed the time with countless rounds of Monopoly and ate our meals by the fireplace, wrapped in blankets.
And when life gives you a refrigerator that has been off for 48 hours? Clear it out and make risotto. We also ate grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, and they did make us feel a little better in a dark house where all the furniture was cold.
Relief workers are trying to provide help to people who are overwhelmed with the task of emptying their homes of waterlogged couches and soggy mattresses. In an effort to give these homeowners a break from their weary clean-up efforts, what is the most basic offering, but a warm meal?
A week later, our lights came back on, the doorbell rang, (as is always the result of a power surge and drives the dog mad), and the television was blaring once again. The house became warm and we were relieved not to have to brace ourselves for icy, cold sheets that night. My children, who first thought losing power was a “cool adventure,” began to realize what life is like needing to put your coat on when you get out of bed in the morning. No lights to read comic books.
This Thanksgiving, we will talk, as we always do, about how lucky we are. We will talk about how there are other people who are not so fortunate and what we can do to help others. This Thursday though, my children have a vivid experience in mind of what it is like to be in a chilly house. Some people are still struggling to get heat and electricity. My children will also know the feeling of gathering around a table and sharing a meal with the people in your life.
Having dinner with your family is what makes a house a home. Even when your brother is kicking you under the table. Even when the dog is chewing on something he probably shouldn’t have. Even when the forgotten pot on the stove starts to burn. And there goes the smoke alarm.