The End: 2018

It was a great year. It was a grievous year. It was an excruciating and an endearing year. It was 2018.

The end of the year saw us hosting my extended family for Christmas, 21 people in all. I planned ahead, I had every detail accounted for, and for the first time in my hospitable adulthood life, I was not the least bit stressed about it.

That is, until the middle of the worst blizzard our region had seen in several years.

And not just because of the blizzard. I was worried for peoples’ safety, of course. Wherever they chose to stay would be where they would remain stuck for at least 24 hours.

But it was what transpired around dinner time that met me at my wit’s end.

There was a brief stint of smoke in the house from the fireplace. Depending on who you talk to will determine how bad of a scenario it was.

One family member ran out of the room screaming. Another stayed in the room while Hubs tried not to scream at me. Looking back on it, I don’t think it was that bad. But it was the first of a domino effect of events that left me in a heap later on in the evening.

After the smoke was cleared out (and I’ll admit, I knew the north wind was bad news for our chimney, but I insisted on lighting the fire anyway…) we had a toilet that wouldn’t plunge.

Hubs, Bro-in-law, and Dad were taking care of what I assumed was a minor plumbing issue that would no doubt resolve.

Those of us who weren’t working on plumbing gathered ’round to pray for dinner which, when you have 15 people sleeping in your home and it’s a blizzard outside, could only be tacos. Tacos are comfort food, and easy for a crowd, and warming from the inside out.

And during the dinner prayer, my youngest nephew had a seizure.

He has struggled with epilepsy for a few years now, but when it took place in my home after I had filled the place (briefly!) with smoke, I panicked. I felt it was all my fault. I choked back tears as I finished the prayer, and it was hard to rustle up enthusiasm to eat dinner.

And right about then was when we learned our rural septic system had failed. It was seeping back into the house. We couldn’t plunge. We couldn’t run sink water. We couldn’t flush. We couldn’t do anything that no doubt 15 people would have to do several times…

and we were eating TACOS.

It was more than I could handle. I excused myself to the garage and had a pity party, crying behind the tinted windows of the vehicles so no one could find me if they came looking for me.

I heard the wind roaring outside, and pictured absolute chaos and devastation happening inside. I breathed deep and walked inside prepared to offer money or lifetime favors to reconcile the obvious worst-post-Christmas ever.

Except when I went inside, that wasn’t the case.

We live right near a bar, and the family had organized bathroom trips to the bar. They had also organized a bucket in the bathroom for… you know. I braved the cold and ran out to the chicken coop to bring in a bag of pine shavings and a canister of “Coop & Compost” sprinkle powder to accommodate the bucket for… you know.

I had already cried and I didn’t see the point in laughing, so I spent most of the rest of the night in a dazed fog of disbelief.

My family had flown hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of dollars to only end up in my home during a blizzard where the septic failed and we were left with trekking through to the bar or using a bucket.

Talk about a Christmas to remember.

But their attitudes weren’t of despair or disdain or even of discomfort. They banded together, rallied the troops, were as supportive as all get out, and they even… my gosh, they even laughed. Out loud. Joyously.

And the bartender suggested a pool noodle over the bucket top to make it a more comfortable experience… which is both genius and disturbing that these kinds of things are already thought of and freely discussed.

And here we are now, everyone back in their homes, settling in for the close of this year and the start to a new one.

While a blizzard worse than last week’s rages on outside.

But we have functioning plumbing.

2018. The end.

2019. Once upon a time…

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