We remember some holidays by the people who dropped by (“Remember, 1971 was the year Aunt Polly was here?”) and others by the celebrations around the tree (“That was the Christmas that you got the bike”). 

But Thanksgivings in the Northwest, in previous years, always seem to be thought of by the storms that accompanied them.

As I remember, Thanksgiving 1983 started with me turning over in bed and pulling the warm blankets a little tighter around my neck. My daily morning ritual of coffee with my buddies was just going to have to be skipped. I confess, I was a weather wimp. It sounded like a heavy windstorm was brewing outside and that it was only going to get worse.

An hour later, I finally dragged myself out of bed and turned on the “Today” show. It was getting even windier outside. In spite of the rain that was now beginning to fall in horizontal sheets, Discovery Park was still filled with its usual number of masochistic runners. Weather announcements on the TV revealed that the storm was now reaching major epic proportions.

A little after 11 a.m., we got to poking around in the basement and discovered a spot were water was leaking into the house. The leak was behind some paneling, it turned out, and that turned into a major demolition project, ripping the paneling down.

We started moving boxes that were filled with my magazine and T-shirt collections and was sopping up the water that had already leaked inside when the lights went out.

“Oh well,” I thought, “they’ll get the power fixed in a minute or two.” Well, they didn’t. 

Simple holiday fare

As the afternoon began crawling by, we found a portable transistor radio and found out that we were sharing our misfortune with pretty much the whole city. Along with the lights went the furnace and the oven. Things could get tense.

My wife, Marjorie, didn’t want to open the refrigerator because she was afraid that it would warm its interior. But it was so cold in the house I didn’t see how that was possible.

I begged, I pleaded: Just one quick opening, just to grab a snack. A lightning-fast move — grab an apple, might as well take the wine since it’s right there, too –- and then quick shut the door again.

Marjorie found some unsalted Wheat Thins hidden in the cupboard, and that pretty much looked like it was going to be our holiday meal: half a bottle of wine, an apple and some stale Wheat Thins.

Our appreciation of Abe Lincoln trying to study by candlelight went up immeasurably as we tried to read by flickering candlelight and shivered, wrapped in blankets. It was getting downright frigid. 

We could see that our neighbors across the street had also resorted to candle power, but at least we didn’t have a house full of guests to worry about.

Much to be thankful for

About 9:30 p.m. that night, the stereo boomed back to life, announcing the return of Freddy Kilowatt. We turned on the lights, blew out the candles and cranked up the thermostat.

Was the turkey still good? Should we throw it out? Are you crazy

That night, at an hour some deemed as “fashionable,” we dined on TV trays in front of “Hill Street Blues.”

We thankfully got all the leaks stopped and my magazines and T-shirts were saved, but those are just little things when I pause and think about all of the many, many things that we really have to be thankful for.

Thank you all for reading this, and have a most wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving.

GARY McDANIEL is a longtime Magnolia resident. 

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