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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Much Ado about Nothing (not about the play) (07/28/11)

TITLE: Fizzled Sparklers at Midnight


Fizzled Sparklers at Midnight

The mother of all New Year’s Eves descended on December 31, 1999; the dawning of a new century, as well as a new millennium. The world held its collective breath, time zone by time zone, as clocks ticked closer to midnight. No one knew for sure what would happen, (the real millennium beginning the following year notwithstanding). Would January 1, 2000 be the catalyst for global computer shut downs affecting governments, power grids, military installations, satellites and essential medical services? Would banks close and certain jobs disappear? Would the binary code, 010100, confuse all programmable electronic devices and no longer process or retrieve data? More importantly, would life as we know it change forever?

Nah! Much like the sparkler I held that night, it all fizzled out. God Himself must have laughed at our unfounded panic, as churches, schools and civic organizations held Y2K meetings. Businesses that thrived on the ‘survival’ trade made bank. I remember attending one such meeting where hermetically sealed containers, back pack first aid kits, iodine tablets, and space blankets were sold along with the hype. It was the ‘snake oil’ of the day and I took the ‘cure’. If the world as I knew it was about to end then, by golly, I was going to be prepared. I implored my skeptical husband to clear out one side of our garage. (It was way overdue, anyway.) Then I went to Costco and cleaned them out of peanut butter, crackers, canned tuna, cases of water and toilet paper - lots of toilet paper. I was determined to pull us through this catastrophe, and continue to exist in the relative comfort of two-ply tissue.

When the 20th century tolled its final bell, I was confident in my preparation. The candles and flashlights were within reach. The cash I withdrew from my savings account was secured in my freezer. Our newly purchased generator was ready to fire up. The extra gas tanks for the barbeque stood like sentries by our back door. Even our handgun was loaded just in case roving bands of thieving thugs came around. As we stayed up late, to watch Dick Clark on TV, something became crystal clear, and it wasn’t the Swarovsky ball dropping from Time Square. News of the world’s demise had been highly exaggerated!

Cinderella’s coach may have morphed back into a pumpkin at midnight, but absolutely nothing occurred worldwide besides massive hangovers. I dropped my sparkler and went to bed.

By midday, on January 1, 2000, I was standing in my garage looking over the foolish purchases I had made. Could I have been any more gullible, I thought? A small consolation was remembering the scores of people who had bought the same things, and much more, at the seminar I had attended. We’d all been duped and now we actually had to use up this stuff. A vision of Bubba, from the movie, Forest Gump, recalling all the recipes he would create from shrimp, flashed across my brain. I simply substituted tuna for his creations; tuna casserole, tuna salad, tuna pizza, tuna souffle… Yup, that’s exactly how I would use up my cases of ‘Chicken of the Sea’.

Of course, I was glad that disaster had been averted, but clearly, we had all made much ado about nothing. After the proper amount of time spent on self-recrimination, I pulled it together. Suddenly, I remembered the nuclear fallout shelters of the 1950’s. People then must have felt the same sense of urgency, at the news of the Soviet arms race, as I had about Y2K. They knew how to ‘hit the mattresses’ (as Don Corleone would say), when trouble began. It’s ironic how love caused us all to end up with egg on our faces from the ‘Chicken Littles’ of our day. It was small comfort remembering this, but one that made me chuckle inside.

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This article has been read 386 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon08/05/11
Loved the title and the story was just as precious. There is nobody upon this earth that this story doesn't fit. Very cute and nicely written.
Belinda Borradaile08/06/11
I remeber this so clearly! Very cool take on the topic, and super discriptions of mankinds trend of stressing in mass hysteria! Funny too.
Juliette Chamberlain-Bond08/06/11
You really have chosen the perfect period to highlight the commotion caused by the turn of the century/millenium.
The big fear was that all computer data would be lost and so many of us did indeed fall for the lie.

Great illustration.
Helen Curtis08/07/11
This is a gem of an entry! I, too, recall the hype and hysteria here in Australia (funnily enough, I was checking on the pets' reaction to the local fireworks when the countdown came and went and had no idea it'd happened!). I love your title, and your descriptions are humorous and very well suited to the topic. I am curious though, just how long the cans of tuna and rolls of loo paper did actually last!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/10/11
This is a nice story and a good example of how the world over-reacted. My husband and I played a trick on the kids while I was counting down, he was in the basement and flipped the lights of for a minute. Like in your story the kids's worrying for that minute really was a big fuss over a joke. I definitely believe God had a good giggle that night. Nice job.
C D Swanson 08/11/11
Nice Job! I am sure a number of individuals could relate to your story...Well written.

Congratulations on your 1st place win! And, thank you for your kind comments on my article. Keep on writing - God Bless you and yours~
Nancy Sullivan 08/13/11
Congratulations on your first place. Y2K duped many of us at some level. I love that you maintained a sense of humor on the morning after. Great writing.