Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If you want to be happy you can, even when the lights go out!

Recently, I was in my office at home, and without any notice, wind or weather elements going on outside, the power went out.  The first thought in my mind was... so now what do I do?  My mind instantly began churning, and I remembered all the fun that my kids and I had during cold winter evenings when the power would go out because of the snow or outside elements.  I looked forward to the lights going out, so we could enjoy family time together.

One of the first things that we do when the lights go out is to run to find a flashlight, candles or some other way to bring light into the room.  I knew where the candles and candle holders were, so I was usually the one to get them out, light them, and place them in strategic areas of the house, to help my family see.

A strange phenomenon happened when we were sleeping or almost there, when the lights went out.  Everyone would wake up and say, "What do we do with the lights out?"  If my reply of, "Go back to sleep", didn't excite them, because they were in the dark before the lights went out, it seemed like everyone would instantly go to the light.  So why is it that we have to have light, when the lights are out?  Well I can't answer that for you but I know why my family has always flocked to the light during a power outage..... because it means fun.  I love it in the dark of night, and have made a list of 10 things we have done to be happy during a power outage, or a self imposed power failure.

1.  Light candles!  Who doesn't have fun striking a match and lighting a candle?  For kids, it is one of the few times that a parent will let them light a match so what fun it is to see who gets to strike the match to light the candles.

2.  Roast Marshmallows.  Those lit candles do more than just light the room with a flickering glow.  Those candles, put together in a little cluster make a great option for roasting marshmallows.  Just grab some long bamboo skewers  or even forks work well, and get out the marshmallows.  I remember one time only having mini marshmallows available, so we put 4-5 on the stick and proceeded to roast.  There is just something about roasting marshmallows on a stick that makes them taste like the best treat you have had in a very long time!

3.  Heat up some soup or food for dinner.  Yes you can even do this, though it does require a little more to be creative about the heating process.  Make a buddy burner using a can. Open the can top and set the can up on something that will elevate the can from the flame, and not on top of it so it will go out.  If you empty a can, rince and dry it out, and open the bottom end of a can, you can set it on top of a lit candle to hold your can of soup yet to be heated up from the flame.  If the flame goes out, using a pop top can opening to punch a few holes in the sides of the can, to let some air in.  If you have a contest with the kids as to how to cook over a flame, they can become pretty creative in coming up with a set up to make this possible.  Some kind of a tripod, that will hold the soup can over the flame.  Have some fun and by the time the soup has been heated enough to eat, the lights will probably go back on, but who says they have to stay on?  Turn them back off, and Finnish your fun dinner!    You can even have a side of toast by toasting your bread over a flame. (I should mention that if you have a propane BBQ that has a side cooking unit, you can cook your dinner on that much easier, but probably it won't be as much fun!)

4.  Tell stories!  Cozy up on the sofa with just enough candles on the coffee table to light the room, and tell stories.  Spooky stories seem to lend themselves well to when the lights are out, but with little kids, having the lights out is spooky enough.

5.  Sing songs!  Yes, I did say sing songs!  There is nothing like singing around a campfire at a camp out to make that good feeling come into your heart. So why not sing around the candles, songs of comfort for the little ones, or silly songs for the older ones.  Songs like, My gals a corker, she's a New Yorker...., The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah and I am pretty sure you can come up with the Jello song, and others to make the lights out time together fun.

7.  Plan a family vacation.  Kids for some reason will talk around a fire easier than they do around the table or anything else, so as a family, plan your next family vacation.  Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more about what fun times you can have, things you can do, foods you can eat and bring with
you, whether you drive, take the train or a bus, but let everyone in on the action of planning.

8.  Snack time! Don't you know that snacks taste better in the dark, and what a better time to pull out the snacks you have in your cupboards than when you only have candle light.  Pull out your bingo game, and M & M's or other small candies, and play bingo.  With each bingo, they earn the right to eat their M & M's. Packaged popcorn... yum, yum, pull out your iPad, and find a family movie, and munch on popcorn while you are watching an iPad movie on that tiny little screen.  This means you will all have to cozy up, sitting close, and piling on the blankets to be able to watch it, but close family fun is to be had when the lights are out.

9.  If you happen to be alone, without family or friends around you, you can always make a phone call on your cell phones.  Have a nice chat until your batter runs out.  Don't forget also that your cell phone can turn into a really great flashlight, and that is probably the easiest thing to find to light your way first, until you can find your candles or flashlights.  It sure runs the battery down fast, but when the power is restored, you can always plug it in to charge up again.  (OR - do you have one of those already charged power packs, you can use and have been saving for this very kind of a situation?  Get it out and finally use it!)

10.  Now for my last idea, I have picked something that everyone doesn't get enough of, that would be a wonderful activity to do when the lights go out.  Pretend it is bedtime and go to sleep if it is close to bedtime.  Get some extra Z's and wake refreshed in the morning.  But... if you do want to take advantage of the dark in this way, be sure to turn off the light switches that you had on before the power went out, or you will wake up when the power goes on, to a fully lighted house.  Then try getting back to sleep aftet that!  JK, actually not!

If you want to be happy even during circumstances that are not always perfect, then make them fun by the things you choose to do.  Enjoy life and be happy, no-matter the condition.