There has been so much on the news lately about how Christmas will be different this year and perhaps very difficult for many, I can’t help but be reminded of our Christmas back in 2008, when everything also went terribly wrong and was difficult to cope with.
At the time, my husband and I were in the process of having a house built, which the contractor had assured us would be move-in ready by September. The problem was, he started out great – very gung-ho and enthusiastic about our project – then, too soon began to show up less and less often. Unbeknownst to us, he’d spent our down-payment (over $100,000) on something else, and had no money left to use for purchasing any materials for our house. Therefore, he intended to drag out the construction process for as long as possible…until he could earn some more money elsewhere. My dream of having a picture-perfect Christmas in our new house that year began to fade as each day passed. Even worse, we already had a sale pending on the house we currently were living in.
Still, as I so often am accustomed to doing, I tried to find the humor in the situation. This is a column I wrote in 2008, after I finally admitted to myself that our house-building project was in very deep trouble. I thought I’d share it with you.
I hate to admit it, but I’m beginning to think that Christmas this year isn't going to be anything like I've been imagining it would be.
First of all, I was certain we would be spending it in our new house (currently still under construction), which was the only Christmas gift I really wanted. And it might sound crazy, but I also was looking forward to finally having windowsills to decorate.
That's because we have none where we currently live, so putting Christmas candles in the windows always has been a real challenge. I can't count the number of times I've slid open the inside window so I could set a candle on the wooden frame between it and the outside window, only to have the inside window come slamming down on me. Good thing I'm fast at yanking my hands out of the way or I'd no longer have any reason to buy fingernail polish. Unfortunately, my neighbor, who has the same type of windows, doesn’t have very quick reflexes and has suffered so many cuts needing stitches, her arms are beginning to resemble a needlepoint project.
But the main reason why I've been looking forward to celebrating Christmas in the new house this year is because I'll finally be able to invite all of my relatives over for a Christmas gathering. Every year, my Uncle Tim and Aunt Dianne host the annual family get-together. It's a lot of hard work for them, what with all of the planning, preparation and cooking. So I figured this year, I could give them a much-needed break and offer to host the party.
I've never been able to host it previously because our current place is only a little over 800 square feet with a short, two-car driveway and no parking allowed on the road out front. Our new house, however, is 1800 square feet with over 400 feet of driveway to park in. So even if my family were as big as the Osmond Family, there still would be plenty of room for everyone.
Visions of friends and relatives holding cups of eggnog while milling about and chatting in our new living room and kitchen gave me a warm feeling inside. I also imagined a tall, live Christmas tree (which we'd cut down right out back on our own land) standing beautifully decorated in a corner of the living room. I even frequently browsed through Martha Stewart's Christmas projects online to get some festive decorating ideas.
Yep, the dream was a nice one…that is, until reality hit me. In fact, it hit hard when I went over to check on the progress on our house last week, only to discover that the word "progress" didn't apply to anything there.
First of all, there still were no steps to get into the front door. I pictured my relatives, several of whom are in their 80s and have back, knee and/or hip problems, trying to hoist themselves up onto the front porch.
"Over here, Auntie!" I could just hear myself shouting while bending over and lacing my fingers together. "Let me give you a 'leg up' into the house!"
The fact there's no heating system installed yet also might be a problem. Instead of my guests holding eggnog and milling about, my vision switched to one of them wrapped in blankets and scarves and clasping cups of hot coffee to prevent their fingers from turning black and falling off. The total absence of windows in the house also might speed up the turning-black and falling-off process.
On the plus side, because there aren't any interior walls up yet, it might make it a lot easier for everyone to mingle…or hold a square dance.
|HOUSE IN SEPT. OF 2OO8. |
NO MORE WORK WAS DONE THAT YEAR
No toilets or septic tank also are a concern, especially at a Christmas party – although there's the workers' chemical toilet out near the woods. I can just picture myself using a crowbar to pry my guests' frozen butts from the cold metal seat. That is, if they don't knock themselves unconscious first, leaping off the front porch that has no steps, in their rush to get to the chemical toilet.
So no new house means having to spend another Christmas in our present home, which currently resembles a factory-outlet warehouse. Boxes, both empty and already packed for the move, are stacked everywhere. There's not an inch of space where there isn’t a tower of boxes. The only guests who might be able to find their way through the rooms are rodents, because they're used to living in dark, winding tunnels.
And then there are the piles of old newspapers everywhere, which I'm going to use for wrapping breakables before I pack them. They add a nice recycling-plant touch to the decor.
It's also likely that my husband and I will be wearing shorts, T-shirts and sandals this holiday season. Why? Because back in early August, I packed away all of our winter clothing in anticipation of the move, and I haven't a clue in which of the 950 boxes our jackets, coats and boots are hiding.
As far as a Christmas tree, I might be able to squeeze a really small one into the one open space left on the coffee table, which currently is piled with items waiting to be packed. But all of my lights and decorations also are buried somewhere in the aforementioned 950 boxes. I suppose I could do something like string popcorn and decorate the tree with that, but my dogs too easily can reach the coffee table…where they inevitably would suck the popcorn off the tree faster than a couple of Hoovers.
So with Christmas rapidly approaching, which house, I'm wondering, might be the best place to entertain guests this year?
That's easy. My Uncle Tim and Aunt Dianne's house.
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(Note: Our house wasn’t completed until over a year later, on Thanksgiving of 2009).
Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor-columnist and the author of several novels, including “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation." Contact her at: email@example.com.