December 16, 2019

The Fright before Christmas - 20 years later


Traditionally, as many families do, we gathered on Christmas Eve in our parent's home to celebrate. This particular year, talk of Y2K* was ever present in the media, in stores, and wherever you happened to be, warnings were issued and people stockpiled items to "survive". We were ready to celebrate Christmas Eve at mom and dad's when the bottom fell out from below my family. I wrote this poem during that sleepless night and had as many as I could track down write what their first thoughts were. Their stories are written, following the poem, exactly as penned that Christmas of 1999.

The Fright Before Christmas – 1999 (The year of Y2K)

On a freezing Christmas Eve in the year ‘99
Thirty-four Olsen’s were gathered and all lookin’ fine.

The food was prepared at Mom Olsen’s with care,
The table was filled for this festive affair.

We crowded the back room for a right solemn prayer
As the aroma of food lightened the air.

When what to our wondering ears did we hear?
But the cracking of floorboards so loud and so clear!

The scrambling, the screaming, the rushing to exit
Gave peace a good-bye as the floor fell just a bit.

My God! What is happening? Is this how we end?
Our separate thoughts shaking, the floor continued to descend.

Out Marcus, out Zhenya, find Elyse, where’s the baby?
Grab Alaina, Rebecka, Sam, Claire, Ksusha and Addie.

All out of the room we scrambled with a clatter
As none of us knew just what was the matter.

Mom’s heart it did flutter and flip with fast beats
As an assembly line rescued the lit candles, and good eats.

Dust settled, screams ceased, and the men they did check
The back room for problems. Was the house still erect?

The floor did give way – two feet in some places!
And left a good hole … and some awe-stricken faces.

No one hurt, no one lost, just nerves jangled and blind.
On this strangest of nights, the year of Y2K on our mind.

Even though this dreadful event gave such a fright
We still wish all a Merry Christmas, and to all a safe night.

Notes written in a journal after the fall

“We were just about to eat supper. Lester said a prayer and we started to sit down around the table when we heard a loud bang – floor began to sink and furniture sliding. Connie called insurance company, expecting them in for estimate.” Mom Olsen

“I can’t explain exactly what I thought. I know I thought it might be the end of the world. When I got a chance to think, I had to figure out where my son Marcus was. Someone told me Alainamae had him and then I was okay. I think Terreal grabbed my hand and we ran into the kitchen and to the hallway. I still didn’t know what was actually happening. It was crazy – that’s how I would explain it!" Monica Miller

“Well, I had a splitting headache and all of the sudden the table & china cabinet is moving. I thought for a minute that a car ran into the back of the house and that the entire room was going to colaps. Then I couldn’t find Sammy so I was into the kitchen. Everyone was shooken up for a few, but then it was calm again.” Kim Franco

“I was in a different room and heard what sounded like gun shots.” Judy Ly

“I was sitting next to my brother Corey talking. All of the sudden I felt a rumble. I thought it was a large object falling or like Uncle Jim fell. Then I realized it was the floor. I didn’t run into the kitchen. I just stood there.” Tony Franco

“We just got done saying prayer and was about to eat when all of a sudden we heard a cracking sound. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I looked down at the floor and realized we were sinking. Everybody started screaming and running into the kitchen. After we realized that the floor didn’t go far, we all ate and ended up having a good time.” Kacee Franco

“I did not know what to think. My mind was going in so many directions. At first I thought it was an earthquake, then I thought Y2K came a little early.” Corey Franco

“At first I thought it was an earthquake, but there could not be an earthquake in Michigan, because nothing was shaking. Then I did not know what it was. So I just ran.” Addie Geissel

“At first I thought that was a earthquake was in Michigan bot then vremgmbr the earthquake was not earthquake the hause prokt down it was the flore. it skerod me I run to the kichene.” Zhenya Geissel, written as Zhenya wrote the comment

“Floor Collapses due to multiple Grand Kids at Grandmas. Due to the love and affection at the Olsen family Christmas Eve Party we all pulled through a disaster of sinking proportion. Everyone survived a drop in holiday spirits at Christmas by pulling together and heading to the living room.” Mark Miller

“My fist thought that it was an earthquake. But there was no earthquake this is Michigan. And plus there is no earthquakes in Michigan. I was realy scared because I was sitting by the part where it was a big hole. It was scary.” 12/31/99 10:37 pm   Ксюша (Ksusha) Geissel, written as Ksusha wrote the comment


*“The Year 2000 problem, also known as the Y2K problem, the Millennium bug, the Y2K bug, or Y2K, is a class of computer bugs related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates beginning in the year 2000. Problems were anticipated, and arose, because twentieth-century software often represented the four-digit year with only the final two digits—making the year 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. The assumption of a twentieth-century date in such programs caused various errors, such as the incorrect display of dates and the inaccurate ordering of automated dated records or real-time events.” (from online Wikipedia)






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