Woo-hoo! It’s Christmas Eve at the Libbert house! These two get just about as excited on Christmas Eve as they do on Christmas Day. And I, for one, finally feel like Christmas has arrived.
Yesterday, we made the HUGE mistake of driving to Winston-Salem for last minute shopping. We spent a large portion of the day sitting through multiple red lights and listening to folks beep their horns. This is usually a recipe for an almost certain explosion on my part, but Harper Lee and Isaac were such funny traveling companions, I could only laugh at the absurdity of it all. We turned up the holiday tunes and sang our hearts out while inching down Stratford Rd. at a snail’s pace.
Once we got home, however, a sense of calm– the kind we should have the whole Christmas season but the one that has eluded me this December– settled over the house. We played music and checkers and danced and wrapped presents. It was delightful.
So much so that I didn’t even really panic when the stove began to billow huge clouds of grey smoke and stink up the house with an unindentifiable, but distinctly non-food, smell.
Really??? I said to no one in particular. A non-working stove on Christmas???
It reminded me of the Christmas when I was ten. Temperatures were well below freezing, the wind howled, and the power went out. When the turkey was only half-way done. I remember my mother’s total freak-out about that. A ruined turkey and nothing to be done about it. Then the pipes froze. And burst. Our friend and plumber came out on Christmas day and crawled underneath our icy house and worked to repair the damage. Later that night, when the power had not been restored, we gave up and went to my grandparents’ house. They didn’t have electricity either, but we were there. Together. With Merdie and Pap and aunts and uncles and cousins. All seeking warmth and a little company to help pass the dark hours. As an adult, I can see how miserable my parents probably were and what a bummer the whole uncooked turkey and frozen water pipes probably were, but as a child, I thought it was a wildly adventurous Christmas. And even though I complained about the cold sheets that night, when I look back on it now, it’s one of my favorite family memories.
It’s funny how so many of the things we think of as disasters at the time turn into funny stories and fond memories later on. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recognize that in the midst of trouble?
At any rate, my smoking oven turned out to be a mouse’s house fire, and while I’m somewhat distressed to know that a family of mice made a nest in the top of my stove and squirreled away enough stuff to catch fire and cause an amazing amount of smoke and stink, I’m happy to report that, for now, I should be able to completely cook my ham and finish my baking by tomorrow.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
Have a happy, disaster-free holiday, and if not, realize that these are the things that make really good stories later on.