It was the evening of December 27th. My brother and his wife had arrived from Toronto. Mark, me and the kids had driven from Burlington. Mary, Ben and Isaac had come from Ottawa. My father and his wife were there too. We all converged on my mother's house for a Christmas feast.
Kids tore open presents. Babies chewed on ribbon. Too much turkey was ingested. And the apple pie was accompanied by heavenly hash ice cream. We chatted into the evening - the kids were put to sleep. It snowed and snowed and snowed.
Sometime after 8, the lights flickered. They flickered again. Then...they went out. Everyone sat for a moment. Mary said, "Oh, that's bad." I was silently thankful the kids were all in bed. We began to wander around, trying to remember where we'd put the flashlights and candles. We'd brought Cole's flash light and someone had been playing with it near the tree. Ma had one of those flashlights powered by motion, that you need to shake and it shines for about ten seconds. So we rooted around in the dark and finally found the stash of candles and a box of matches. The room began to glow and warm.
At nine, my brother-in-law turned to Mary and said, "We'd better head over to your dad's house. It's nine." Then he said he'd load up the car. The night morphed into a winter wonderland - snow on all the branches and roads. Ben began to rummage through the bags, "I just need to find the keys."
The non-chalant search picked up in energy and urgency as the minutes ticked by. It was additionally difficult because there were no lights. We systematically felt around in the couch, in the closet, in coat pockets. Ben remembered going right to the enormous back yard with the dog to play and romp and build snowmen after their long journey. He also mentioned his coat pockets were prone to letting things out. We looked out the window at the half foot of fluffy white snow and wondered if it was possible the keys could be buried somewhere in its midst.
Ben and I put on snow gear and went out to retrace his steps. There were a lot of steps. He'd played everywhere with Frisbee. The back yard is about six hundred feet deep and a hundred feet wide. We looked and looked but found no keys.
Ben and Mary decided to borrow our car and take Isaac and their pup to my dad's and to resume the search in the morning in daylight. But the upwards slope of the driveway proved icy. Ben and I had to push while Jay drove and it took several attempts to get our van onto the main road.
In the morning, my dad had a brilliant idea. He drove Ben out to the country to a man who rented metal detectors. We tied a bag to the end and Ben went out, feeling hopeful, to comb the yard. He swooped and sweeped through the snow methodically for over two hours. Then he came in for lunch to warm up with a bowl of turkey soup, coffee and some chocolates.
Then they called the Kia dealership and inquired about towing the car and getting a new set of keys made.
Just as they were packing Isaac up to take him to my dad's for nap, my brother went out to the back yard one last time. He swept the centre, the area where the most romping and playing occurred, not with the metal detector, but with a hockey stick. He was out for just a few minutes.
And he found those wonderful keys!