Silent night

Think back to last evening.

You probably got home from work shortly after dark, hung your coat and wool hat in the coat closet, turned up the thermostat, gave a kiss or a hug or a greeting to your family members (or the cat or nodded to your roommate or the refrigerator), turned on the TV and started dinner.

You may have watched the news, but more likely you turned to reruns of The Simpsons, walking in and out of the kitchen while your meat sizzled, noodles boiled or veggies steamed.

Maybe the kids were in the other room working on their homework, so you went in to help them with their capital letters or to sympathize as they struggled through their quadratic equations or that English paper that they put off until the last minute (just as you did, just as every kid across the country has occasionally).

The homework was probably interrupted by the microwave dinger, a ring of the doorbell or a voice from the kitchen: Dinner’s ready. And you and your family sat down and either ate leftovers, a freshly prepared meal or maybe a delivered pizza.

Over dinner, you talked to your family about the events of the day. Your little one has the sniffles, and maybe you do, too—there’s something going around. There was the usual conversation about who needs a ride where or who can stay over at whose house this weekend or what a crank the boss is. Maybe the oldest had some actual news about his plan, not just to graduate high school but where he might like to go to college in a couple years. It was evening in America, and Jerry Seinfeld said, “Hulloooh.”

After dinner, you pushed the button on the computer. Maybe you were going to play a little Halo 2, perhaps do some early Christmas shopping on the Internet, possibly check out the weather forecast.

“Holy crap,” you thought, echoing Frank’s sentiments from Everybody Loves Raymond. “It’s supposed to be less than 10 degrees outside, better bring the dog in.” The dog’s a snow dog who’d sleep on a bed of ice if offered the opportunity, but those temperatures might kill her.

Later, as you prepare yourself for bed, you glanced out the window through the thin rime of frost that’s formed on the glass from the pinhole leak in the caulking. The 18-inch icicles hanged off the eaves like Old Man Winter’s teeth, and the waxing moon glittered off the snow like the flash in his eyes. It was so cold that moisture couldn’t hang in the air, and the streetlights looked like they’re only inches away.

Last night, while you slept under your three layers of blankets, according to, it reached 5 degrees in Reno. There were people who, through no fault of their own, spent the night on the streets. There are groups like ReStart, 490 Mill St., 324-2622, that help take families with children off the street. You’re so lucky. What could it hurt you to send them a buck or two?