So This Is Christmas…

So This Is Christmas…

This is some prepper fiction that I have had written in my head for some time. The title comes from a John Lennon song that likes to run through my head this time of year. I like to run various scenarios to see how they would play out. This version is more hopeful than I normally am, but I am not all doom and gloom all the time. I hope you enjoy it!

The event happened six months ago. No one knows precisely what happened, but the little communication we have had afterward points to this being a cyber attack by a foreign country. Some people still blame it on an EMP or CME, but no one really knows for sure. We had power intermittently for a week or two after the event, and then no power at all. The power grid fell when the infrastructure couldn’t handle all the demand. I’m leaning towards a cyber attack because the older vehicles still worked if they had gas. No one knows for sure. The government was the target of the attack and didn’t put out an official statement before everyone else lost power.

At first, life was still pretty normal at home. We tried to go to work, but after a couple of days we were told not to come back. That was fine because we quickly realized that we had much to do at home. We cut back on the feed and let the chickens free range more to save the feed for winter. We kept up the garden and planted more to have more fresh food on hand and not waste the stored food. We adjusted pretty quickly to cooking outside. We had plenty of propane cylinders at first to keep the grill and camp stove running. However, our thoughts quickly turned to winter. What were we going to do about heating and cooking inside the house?

Living in Iowa can be a blessing and a curse. We have the advantage of being fairly rural, and neighbors have come together. The downside is that we are fairly rural and must drive or walk to get the items needed to survive. We also have some cold winters. Being rural, electricity and technology had made our lives easier before the event. Many homes relied on electricity in some way. Even those with propane and natural gas do not have heat right now because the furnaces went to electronic starters instead of standing pilots in the name of safety. Those that had old furnaces with standing pilots only have a limited amount of propane before they cannot run anymore. The same goes for the whole house generators that run off propane.

Everyone, including us, has been scrambling to find the old woodstoves and find some way to install them in the house. Our own home has electric heat. I hadn’t been comfortable with that situation for years, but we couldn’t find a way to afford to install a wood burner. We finally found a wood stove at a scrap yard with the limited amount of gas we had left in the truck. We hope it holds together for a few years until the powers that be get the grid back up and running if that happens.

Even with a wood stove, we have a limited amount of wood. Thankfully, this winter has been unusually mild, and we have tried not to use the wood stove much. We still cook outdoors, but propane is limited and may run out soon. We can still use the cast iron over the fire pit or the homemade rocket stove, but we are trying to limit the amount of wood we use until more can be cut. No stick, twig, or branch is wasted. Life is now about procuring and managing resources to ensure survival.

We barely noticed Thanksgiving had come and gone this year. It’s not that we aren’t thankful for everything we had, but we were too busy with everyday tasks, surviving the cool fall, and preparing for the upcoming winter to stop for a big meal. Even if we could, we didn’t want to waste the resources that making a big dinner would require. We did have canned turkey and gravy over instant mashed potatoes with canned green beans and cranberry sauce. So good!

We are still busy with everything that needs to be done. The list is endless. The top priority is water. Even with the rain catchment system, we must procure water because Iowa was in a drought before the event, and nothing changed afterward. Even though we had our own well, the well pump was electric. We do have a generator that can run it, but the gas is running out to run the generator. We only use the generator if we have no other water. We had a lot of water stored, but no one thought we would be out of power for this long. We need water for us, the chickens, and the garden. So we do not waste even a drop of water.

Christmas is here now and it is amazing what doesn’t seem important anymore. There will be no gifts. We consider being alive a gift. Many people have died in the cities and more probably will once winter becomes less mild and more colder. We are thankful for all the food we had stored and could continue to grow over the summer and fall. We preserved as much food as possible to survive the winter and spring when more could be grown again. We haven’t decorated much, but did put a few special items out on the table. We will use the special Christmas plates for our meal.

I still have some special Christmas food left over from last year, like candy canes and peppermint hot chocolate mix. We will have an apple pie for Christmas since we canned apples from our tree. We will also cull a young rooster from our flock for Christmas lunch. He will make a few meals for us. We can’t wait for fresh meat! We had canned so much of our meat to keep it from spoiling. Even when we got a deer this fall, we canned most of the meat so it wouldn’t spoil due to the warmer temperatures. Canned meat is what we usually eat because it is quick, easy, and requires fewer resources to heat up. Even with the fresh chicken, I will spatchcock it to cook faster and use fewer resources. It can cook on the grill that way, too. We will also have a special drink for Christmas because we still have some alcohol left that we keep for special occasions.

I don’t miss the consumerism or the craziness of the holiday season. One of my neighbors walked over yesterday and we talked a bit. We both don’t miss the overwhelming busyness of the season. We talked about our kids who are college-aged or adults. We both miss our kids and hope they are alive and doing well. We hope to hear from them soon. She has heard from her husband that a crude sort of postal mail system is trying to be set up to get mail and news delivered but in a country this size, that can be a monumental effort. We know some semi-trucks are still going due to the government fuel reserves, but we don’t see them here often and we have no idea what they are hauling. They are certainly not used for delivering mail. Iowa isn’t flyover country now. It’s drive through country.

My neighbors are farmers. Her husband heard from another neighbor that they will supposedly get diesel delivered from the reserves to keep farming next spring because this country needs food. However, her husband asked them how they were supposed to get seed, parts for equipment, and how they were supposed to get out the crop still in the field after they ran out of diesel this fall. Also, the some of the equipment is so technologically advanced that not all the tractors and combines worked last fall. No one has the answers for that.

Another neighbor recently let us pick corn from a nearby field to feed the chickens since he can’t harvest the corn. We are giving him eggs in return since the chickens are still laying eggs. Thankfully, I had the foresight to buy a hand-cranked grinder for the corn, but it is certainly more work. However, I am so grateful to have chickens!

So, this is Christmas. Instead of presents and craziness, it is survival. Spending time with loved ones which has become our neighbors has become more precious. Gratefulness has replaced the seasonal greediness. Hope hasn’t been completely dashed, but we know this reality won’t change soon. Hopefully, nothing worse happens, but we don’t hold our breaths. We have heard stories…

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas,

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2 thoughts on “So This Is Christmas…

  1. Love the story and it incorporates the items we should have to start with. It is practical, down to earth and kept my interest, wanting the story to go on. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

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