I'm not supposed to use the word stupid as Aurora reminds me when I slip, but that is how I felt tonight as the importance and weight of the Christmas season hit me full scale tonight.
I'm going to try to sum this up fairly quickly but if you have read some of my random posts before, you know that isn't my speciality.
It all started back in October. My step-grandmother passed away, Gramma Harriet. She was an amazing woman. I'm not going to lie, although I loved her and appreciated her and her love for my children and thought she was a fantastic person, I wasn't incredibly close with her. It did hurt to see her go. Seeing my stepmom's, Jackie, sadness was hard. Seeing my stepsisters' sadness hard. Seeing the rest of the family's pain was hard. It hurt, it still does. Gramma Harriet had been living with my dad and Jackie for several years now. I know this Christmas will be different for them. Gramma loved chocolate covered pretzels. I loved making them for her for Christmas. There wasn't much she needed, and I loved making snacks she loved. Last week Jackie and my dad had to put down one of their dogs. It has been a rough fall for Jackie. I could hear the sadness and pain in her voice. I just wanted to hand her happiness.
Backtracking again, the weekend after Gramma's funeral we went back home, to my in-laws, for the opening weekend of archery season. We were blessed that Jacob got a small deer that weekend. I was not mentally prepared for what we came home to Sunday evening at around 9pm in the evening we walked into an oddly humid house. The humidity turned out to be from water spraying from a hot water pipe that had burst. From the amount of water it looked it it burst the second we walked out he door 2.5 days ago. It burst in our main bathroom which is on the first floor (the only bathroom we really use) and spread into the hallway and our bedroom extensively. It had also done damage to the kitchen and dining room floors as well. Jacob had just painstakingly repaired and refinished our bedroom hardwoods in April. They were destroyed. The water has rained into our basement all weekend destroying my "pantry", all the drywall in the basement, boxes of stored items, boxes of gifts prebought for Christmas, the bathroom in the basement and we would later figure out our washer.
So that happened. Insurance is covering it.
After having multiple frustrating and failed experiences trying to find contractors, a flooring guy finally started to replace some of the hardwoods and refinish the rest this Monday. Between Christmas and another baby coming around January 25, I decided the hardwoods were the most important because the moving of all the furniture would render most of our first floor (our bedroom, the dining room and the living room) unusable during the project and this needed done before the baby. Although my bathroom has no drywall, vanity, sink or flooring, it has a toilet and bathtub so that is functional at least and only a one room project when we get to it.
The flooring guy and I worked out a schedule where the bedroom, hallway, dining room and living room would be done by Dec. 20 so we could move all the furniture back and get a tree up maybe a few days before Christmas.
I was feeling slightly depressed because I wanted to decorate but I had no time or space between preparing for moving everything in those rooms and those rooms being unusable but I kept telling myself after the work started I would decorate the upstairs where the kids' rooms are and the porch and entryway and kitchen and that this would be enough and WE WOULD GET A TREE UP in the livng room BEFORE CHRISTMAS!
Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, my father in law had a heart attack. Thank God, he survived. We were waiting to figure out what would happen next for him. Then Tuesday afternoon, 5 minutes before I should pick Aurora up from school, in the middle of simultaneously starting dinner and unloading groceries, the flooring guy tells me that they found asbestos and he had torn out what was in the area he was working on that day but he thinks there is more in the kitchen and/or bathroom. I am supposed to get Aurora, NOW, so I don't fully process but I know this is bad.
So he removed the asbestos and the rooms were taped off but the kitchen definitely wasn't fully taped off and he carried the bag full of and probably covered in asbestos dust through my kitchen, living room and entryway.
I pick up Aurora from school. I talk to Jacob. He says there is probably dust all over, get out of the house. The dust shouldn't be disturbed. Thank gosh Aunt Kelly has off work this week, talk about timing. She normally works long hours. We go to Kelly's. Eventually Jacob goes home to assess the situation and call our Home Owners Insurance guy who is handling the claim from the pipe burst because the flooring work is a result of that. After seeing dust everywhere he and the homeowners guy decide we shouldn't go in the house, we should get an asbestos test done. I text Jacob a list of things I can think of that we need for a night or two. On the way to meet me at Kelly's Jacob realizes the alternator in his car is going. Between staying somewhere other than home and Aurora still going to school, we really can't be without the second car for too long. Jacob decides to drop it off at Pep Boys that night because they can have it done by the next day.
Wednesday. Jacob's dad has a cath, they ballon him twice and put a stent in. He does very well. Thank God. Someone comes to get a sample to test for asbestos. Pep Boys says that it is just the battery, which would be a relief but Jacob doesn't really think that is the case. They insist that is all it was. Wednesday night we do Aurora's gymnastics class and move to Jacob's grandmother's house (which is two down from his sisters' house). Gramma's house is empty, she passed in June, but here are beds and heat and water and everything we need.
Thursday. Sample isn't back yet but I would really like in the house. There is no more exposed asbestos currently except in the dust around the house. We decide Jacob will wear a respirator and clean the house throughly so regardless of how long this process takes (complete removal and cleaning of remaining asbestos under the other floors that need redone) we can get back into our house for a few days and some things need done. Keep in mind, I literally dropped everything when I left Tuesday, making dinner, there was a bowl of wheat and a bowl of yeast growing on the counter for dinner and groceries just sitting in the entryway. That evening on the way home from work to clean the house, Jacob realizes he was right about the car. Clearly this was not a battery issue. The alternator is still bad. And now we have to figure out another day without a car and appointments. Cleaning is taking longer than Jacob expected. After Aurora's dance class I'm back at Jacob's grandmothers he is still at our house cleaning. We are both stressed. We are tense with each other. I get the kids in bed and...
I just cry for the first time this week. I am sad, I'm not going to have my house back to normal at all before Christmas no matter how this situation moves forward. I love the Christmas season. Not Santa, or the presents. I love the smell of Christmas. I love the decorations around the house. I love the baking, the gift wrapping, the smell, the activities. All these things are passing me by and I'm probably not even going to have a tree in my house.
Don't get me wrong, I have felt very blessed through all of this. When the pipe first burst, my mother in law and Aunt Maryanne were at the house the next day helping me sort through things, clean, take care of my children and anything. When things took a turn this week, my Aunt Kelly was off work and took us in her home, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas, she fed us. She spoiled my children at Build A Bear. She let us use her car for a day. My sisters' in law made sure Gramma's house had clean sheets and was clean for my kids (Sarah is renovating to buy and move in eventually). They had a small tree lit and decorated and even made it smell Christmasy. There was a nativity out. They let my kids hang out at their house which is beautifully decorated and make a mess. Tonight Erin watched Max so I didn't have to take him to Aurora's dance class (which was amazing, Jacob normally works late on this night so I am always chasing him) and when I got back Amanda (their roommate who is like and Aunt) bathed them for me. Through out this whole thing, Jacob and I were thankful. We know it could be worse. Heck, at least we have a home that needs fixed. But something was off. I wasn't going to get to have what I love about about Christmas in my house but I was so blessed, why wasn't this enough. I was wallowing in a cup of tea in Gramma's kitchen in her rocking chair listening to my favorite spiritual Christmas station on Pandora (Breath of Heaven, try it, is awesome, thank you Claudia Predis) and O Come O Come Emmanuel came on. I'm listening and as the REJOICE! REJOICE! Emmanuel Shall Come to you Oh Israel I realize, Jesus is coming! Jesus is being born! That is what we are celebrating. Not only is this season not about Santa or gifts, it isn't about how I want to experience it. No matter what is going on, no matter where I am, whether or not I have a tree, we are still celebrating Jesus' birth and that is what is important. Jesus is coming regardless and that is what I should be focusing on. And we had already done the angel tree and some other special giving but somehow I hadn't connected the two. It was just part of the Christmas season. I had been talking to Aurora about the true reason for Christmas. What we are really celebrating. I had told her this, but apparently it had been somewhat lost on me. A light had been turned on. I have always known and seen people get caught up in the season and miss what the real meaning is and here I was doing the same thing over a tree and lights and smells and baking when Jesus is still coming.
Don't forget to just celebrate Jesus.