Even though we are closer to Easter than Christmas, I am continuing to tell your stories of how the power outage affected your Christmas.
Everyone’s story is unique, but I think Pastor Pieter Le Roux’s story epitomizes how one’s plans can come to an abrupt halt. I’m sure Pastor Pieter was reminded of the scriptural passage that says “all our plans for that day come to naught.” Pastor Pieter and his family’s plans sure did come to naught as you will appreciate when you read his story.
The plans for a family Christmas celebration started months in advance as Pastor Pieter’s parents (Amanda & Pieter) were still in South Africa. The plans were set in motion by his parents, Pastor Pieter, and Pieter’s sister who lives in Maple Ridge; that his parents would come for the Christmas season and stay in Canada for one month.
It was a family decision that his parents would spend Christmas Day in Chemainus so they could watch their grandchildren open their Christmas presents (which they brought with them from South Africa). His sister (Helena) and her husband (James) would come from Maple Ridge to complete the South African Le Roux family Christmas celebration on Christmas Day. And a highlight for Pastor Pieter would be to have his parents and sister with him as he celebrated the United Church Christmas services with his beloved congregation. How he proudly looked forward to being able to present his parents and sister to his congregation after the service in the adjacent hall while having beverages and snacks.
No one anticipated these simple pleasures in life would not be realized due to the effects of the high winds on December 20, 2018. Once the power outage happened, Pieter’s family (like so many other Islanders) was in cold darkness except for the warmth of each other, candles and extra layers of clothing. While all of us (who did not have a gas fireplace, a wood burning fireplace or a generator) felt the dampness chill our bones, Amanda and Pieter (senior) who were in temperatures of 23C in Cape Town, South Africa just a few days earlier, must have felt the cold intensely.
As Pastor Pieter wisely shared with me, “I know the cold weather or atmosphere does not cause a cold, but my three-year-old son’s cold worsened with the house being so damp. I was afraid that my parents might get this cold so I wanted to bring them to Maple Ridge where there was no power outage. But, alas, I did not have a vehicle. What was I going to do to help my parents?”
Then Pastor Pieter remembered a couple in the music ministry at the United Church offered him the use of their vehicle while his parents were visiting him over Christmas. Thus, he contacted them and borrowed their vehicle and drove his parents to Helena & James’ house in Maple Ridge. Sadly, this was the last time Pieter was able to enjoy the presence of his parents here in Canada.
The power outage had the ability to rob Pastor Pieter of his plans, but it did not have the ability to rob him of his family intimacies. The intimate times of listening to one another face to face with no distractions of internet, ipads or cell phones are precious memories Pastor Pieter will always treasure.
He laughingly recalled, “it was wonderful for Anneke and I to watch our nine- and three-year-old sons actually playing together creatively. Generally, they are playing separately on their age-related Nintendo games. It was also so nice to sit down to eat together as a family by candlelight with no one bobbing up and down on cellphones. It taught us a lot and we are now trying to keep the positive quality family times that the power outage brought us. My wife and I want our children to be creative and not just technology savvy.”
Then Pieter added with a broad smile: “Anneke and I had more time for each other as well.”
Another treasured memory Pastor Pieter has of his parents’ shortened visit is how his father would go out “exploring” and come back to the house sharing what he saw and who he spoke to while walking the streets of Chemainus.
Lastly, Pastor Pieter shared that his sister and her husband recently came to Chemainus to bring their nephews their Christmas presents. “So, we celebrated Christmas yet again.” Pastor Pieter’s story reminds us to consciously slow down and be creative.
(Chemainus resident Kathleen Kelly is the author of the book ‘The Tornadoes We Create’).