The Christmas the Lights Went Out by Debbie Cantrell Bowers



The Christmas the Lights Went Out

It was one of the coldest winters in Bloomington, Ind.that year and Christmas was three days away. We lived in a small trailer there and we had been out of high school only a year. My husband was captain of the football team and I was captain of the cheerleading team and being the late 60's, it was just what everyone expected of you to marry your high school sweetheart Except my parents who immediately told me that if I did I was disowned from the family. To make things worse he was spanish-american. I was a person who never saw color only the person inside. We are all made of the same stuff!!!

My husband had told me he was taking the car (my car) our only car and going to make the 4 hour round trip to Kokomo to pick up his mom and bring her back to spend Christmas with us!! This was three days before Xmas.

Christmas Eve and still no husband, and to make matters worse, the electric company turned our lights off for non payment two months worth that he had told me was paid. Oh, did I mention we had a baby that was not even a year old? I was so scared not having any phone or family within 1600 miles, a baby, and now no electricity, in a city where I knew no one having just moved there for him to work in the new factory.

I put the baby's milk out in the snow and gathered all the blankets I could find and put them all on the bed and got my son Joey and crawled in bed and held him close to my body, hoping that my body heat would keep him as warm as possible as it was freezing in the trailor already and it was not even dark! I cried for my son. I cried because it was my fault that we were in that situation because I had married his Dad. I cried because I had not listened to my parents, I cried because how could someone who loved you do this?? I cried for him to just come home and to wake up and it would have all been a nightmare! I cried till I had no more tears, until my heart ached with pain and fear and confusion!

How I fell asleep for an hour I do not know but when I woke up it was just about daylight and it was Christmas. I wasmy son's first Christmas, and I promised him that he would never have another Christmas like this one again! My fingers and toes were numb from the cold and even though I had kept Joey warm, I knew we could not stay and that I had to do something. I got back in bed with my baby to stay as warm as we could although I was trembling from the cold. I had to come up with a plan while I could still think straight. If only we were not out in the sticks so far awway from anyone, but that was the way he wanted it to be so that I had no choice but to count on him!!!

I got up and got Joey and I bundled up in layers as many as would fit and still be able to get our coats on. I put two bottles of frozen milk in my pockets and out the door we went hoping that the closest neighbor would be home. They lived about a mile down the road but that was walking in over a foot of snow, with winds that would cut you in half. It was 8 am Christmas morning when we left and the baby seemed to get heavier and heavier with each step. Pretty soon I thought I could see a farm house. As I walked on and got closer I could see that it was.

When we got to the front door I could hear the sounds of laughter and cheer coming from inside the house. As I rang their door bell I wondered what would they think when they saw us. Would they welcome us or turn us away? Well a very kind gentleman opened the door and then everyone was there helping unwrap me and lil Joey, and before I knew it, I was in front of the fireplace with a blanket around me and a cup of hot chocolate. The farmers wife already was heating the baby milk and rocking him in front of the fire. These kind people could not even have imagined what a wonderful blessing they had given us that Christmas. I asked to use the phone and called my parents and told them what had happened and could Joey and me come home? My father hesitated and said if I promised that I would divorce him we could. Well, I knew that was going to be what happened in the end anyhow so I told him to send us money and we would ride the bus home. That afternoon Jesse (the farmer) and his wife Thelma took us to western union and then to the bus station and saw us off. Alot happened in the next 18 years of my son's life but his Dad was never a part of it, nor did he ever pay a penney child support! Back then they did not have the technology to collect from deadbeat dad's!! My son has since, when he was in his twenties. moved back to Kokomo, has a family of his own, but has not invited me to be apart of it. I did not tell him of all the abuse and bad things about his dad. I just pray to God to open his heart back up to me and his sister Tiffanie.

Copyright Debbie Cantrell Bowers 2003


The beautiful painting used for this set is by artist, Penny Parker, and used with her permission.

The Midi playing is called "I'll Be Home For Christmas." It is performed by Yuko Ohigashi. Copyright 1996-2003. It is used with her permission.

ŠNov. 5, 2003