I’ll Take the Silver Lining

I can’t adequately describe the comfort that I feel as I once again sit down and make words out of thoughts. I had been away, and I am home again.

I must confess that I started writing this post in mid-December, and my intention was to post it before Christmas. I had one vision…life had another. When Christmas turned into January, I realized that this unfinished draft was preventing me from moving forward with this blog. I had written too much to discard it, so I knew I had to just finish it, post it, and move into a new year. This is it!

In an attempt to not be a Debbie Downer in the middle of Christmas, I had opted not to write about my recent catastrophes. I thought I would just deal with the issue at hand and…well…just keep swimming.

…but it’s been hard, and writing feels good. Although the truth is that this cloud has been laced with a many silver linings…and that’s what I want to write about.

So what happened? Well, on Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend my daughters and I woke up to find that a malfunction of the master bath toilet had caused it to overflow overnight with water seeping through the floor and leaking into our living room ALL.NIGHT.LONG! By the time we discovered this mess, there was a waterfall pouring into the living room, onto our leather couch and running through the ceiling into the dining room area. There was so much water that it did not stop for hours!

A disaster indeed, and while I could spend precious writing minutes describing the cleanup process, I prefer to cut to the chase. At the end of it all, a disaster restoration crew had to come in and cut out the ruined ceiling, remove all the carpet in the living room and dining room and pull up all the tile from the master bath. On the week that we were going to decorate our home for Christmas, we found ourselves with no ceiling, no floor and no furniture in the living room or dining room.

Did I mention that we had just moved into this house a couple of months previously? We are not even unpacked…but we had taken care to set up the living room and kept it (relatively) tidy so that we would have one room to relax and receive friends in. It was our “pretty room” where we would set up our Christmas tree, Advent wreath and manger scene…and it was gone!

There was not a surface left in this house to put down a single ornament. There are messes upon messes…I don’t even want to describe it. I wouldn’t call it my worst nightmare…there are worse things…but it’s pretty far up there.

So where does the lining come in? Where do the rays peek through? In so many different places. First, there are the kids. They have been amazing! It is not their job, under any circumstance, to sustain me emotionally or keep my spirit up during the holidays, but they have done it anyway…by just being themselves, by never losing faith,  never failing to believe that Christmas would still come.

We are renting the house we live in, and there were changes that we would have wanted that were going to take the owners a considerable amount of time to complete. There were others that we had been told would not be done. One was the colors of the walls. The entire house would have been painted…eventually. The carpet in the living room and dining room was not going to be changed.

Well, the restoration crew declared that anything that was touched by water was contaminated and had to go…that included the carpet that I never wanted and the walls that were a color too dark for my mood. Even the tile on the master bath floor had to be changed.

I got to pick out new tile for the bath and paint colors for the living room and dining room. Best of all though, I got to pick out new laminate floors to replace the carpet! These were the thoughts that kept me from completely losing my mind!

Things were not exactly perfect by traditional standards, but then again, I have never been a stickler with tradition. By the time we got a floor in the living room, it was too late to start the process of picking out a live Christmas tree and doing all the decorating. Instead, on the weekend when we would have normally gone to pick out a family tree, the girls each got a small tree for their bedroom, which they decorated themselves. They were beautiful!

Eventually, when all the construction was completed a week before Christmas, I set out our Nativity set where the Christmas tree would have been. The stockings went up on the mantle and handmade snowflakes and lights were put up.

The amazing thing about this apparently messy Christmas is that I learned that Christmas is still Christmas without all the frazzle. You see, at a time when I would normally have been drowning in shopping and decorating and holiday activities, I was forced to focus on home reconstruction and cleaning up a mess…but Christmas still came, and it really boiled down to celebrating in the ways that mattered the most – those that were the most essential Christmas for us.

I wonder if I can do it again next year…without the excuse of a catastrophe.