Thank you, Sandy.
More than a week without power, heat, phone, Internet, TV -- the comforts, conveniences and amusements we hardly ever contemplate -- gives a person time to think. For one thing, it surely makes me grateful for the life I usually lead, free of worry about meeting my family’s basic human needs.
This tiny taste of what life might be like if our family were in less fortunate circumstances has given me greater empathy for families who face the cold regularly without the certainty that in a few days things will be better.
These trying days after the storm also made me feel profoundly grateful for living in a community full of such kind, supportive neighbors. This year, I feel that Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough and as we go around the table expressing what each of us is grateful for, my list will be very long.
I’m sure that everyone in Montclair has stories like mine, so I’m not naming names. Neighbors and friends, if you think you see yourself in this letter, these thanks are exactly meant for you. Whether you helped me or you helped someone else just like me, I hope you see yourselves in this letter and know that you are appreciated.
Now, for the lengthy list.
I’d like to thank the wonderful neighbor on our block who took charge during the confusion the day after the storm and orchestrated efforts to set up strings of extension cords from his side with power to our side which had lost power.
Thanks also to the neighbors who generously allowed strings of cords to run from their porches to power the refrigerators on our side of the block. Being able to count on fresh food made the week so much more bearable.
To the friend of a friend who spent an hour trying to start our boiler to get us some heat, even though our furnace completely resisted your efforts, you are on my thank you list, too.
Thank you to the neighbors who let us come over to warm up and use their Internet, giving us the chance to catch up on email and giving our boys the chance to get a much desired Internet fix.
A special thank you to the friend of a friend of a friend who saved my youngest child’s Halloween this year. She had a houseful of families gathering at her home -- some of whom she’d never met before, including mine -- and trying to trick-or-treat as a group that afternoon.
After all of the first 12 houses we visited had no one home to pass out candy, this wonderful mom knew that something needed to be done. The adults quickly organized a candy scavenger hunt in her backyard. The kids aged 2 to 12 who had become instant friends enjoyed a great candy hunt, with the older kids making sure the younger ones found just as many pieces of candy. The kids followed up with a happy candy trading session in the living room while the adults enjoyed the warmth -- temperature and kindness -- in this amazing Monclair mom’s kitchen.
I’d also like to thank the wonderful folks at the public library. Our family was so grateful to be able to spend warm hours finding books to fill our electricity-free hours at home, and also grateful to find a place where we could thaw our fingers and use our computers.
We are also grateful to the strangers -- friends we just hadn’t met before -- who quickly shared power strips and conversation in the library community room. The folks at Terra provided small treats to make the time more pleasant -- thank you for that.
Thank you to our friends around the country and around the world who sent us words of encouragement. Those words and good wishes mattered.
Thank you to the friends who let us do laundry in their home when we had run out of clean clothing.
We give enthusiastic thanks to the guys from Arkansas who finally got our electricity working!
We are endlessly and incredibly grateful to the teachers, administrators and staff who welcomed our kids back to school on Nov. 7, comforting the slightly shell-shocked students and parents with cheerful classrooms, confident smiles and small hugs. How the school adults did this when they were coping with the same challenges as everyone else is amazing. There are no words to tell you what this meant to our family and to all of the kids craving a return to routine.
I’d also like to thank my husband and kids who approached the whole storm aftermath with such positive attitudes, making the best of the situation every day. I can’t remember hearing one complaint the whole week.
I am grateful for the time playing board games by flashlight.
I’m glad for extra layers of socks.
I’m grateful for gas burners which work without electricity and for meltingly warm skillet grilled-cheese sandwiches. I loved sitting down to have hot chocolate together to ward off the chill each morning which is so different from our usual routine of grab and go breakfasts.
The dark, chilly nights motivated us to snuggle up under the quilts much earlier than our usual bedtimes, and with no work or school in the mornings we simply slept until we were done. I’m grateful for being well rested.
I am also grateful for the incredible life that I enjoy every day. I don’t have to worry whether my family will wake to a warm home. We have never been food insecure. I know that setbacks like those from a storm aftermath are only temporary. We have leisure time to pursue worthwhile pleasures or to simply amuse ourselves. We live in a country with the right to participate in deciding how our country will move forward.
We learned that we are resourceful enough to weather an eight day power outage, and to do it with good cheer. We have wonderful friends and we are surrounded by a community ready to help. We have each other.
For all of this, I give thanks.