Monday, January 03, 2011

What matters most

It's safe to say that Christmastime is my most favorite time of the year. I love it. I take great joy in decorating my home "just so", enjoying traditions with my kids (like opening presents in OUR house every Christmas morning before going anywhere else), and making sure everything is perfect. Absolutely. Perfect.

Not this year. Not by a long shot.

On Monday before Christmas, as I was cleaning up dinner I discovered my kitchen sink wouldn't drain. Great, another clog. We have lots of plumbing issues in our old (45-year-old) home so this was not surprise. Jason came home and tried all his tricks; taking the trap out and cleaning it, snaking the pipe, vinegar and baking soda, and finally Drano. Nothing worked. We were resolved to the fact we'd have to call in the professionals the next day.

Morning rolls around and the sink didn't unclog itself overnight. You never know, it could happen, right? I called the plumber and they gave me an appointment window of 9:00-1:00. When did the plumber show up? 12:58. Nice.

The plumber suspected a stubborn clog, just as we did and decided to attack it from the plumbing vent on the roof. He was up there for probably an hour and a half trying to get the clog to budge but it just wouldn't. On his final try with the snake he discovered mud and dirt at the end of the snake when he pulled it from the pipe. Not good news.

Back when our home was built, it was the standard to use cast iron pipes (now we use PVC as I'm sure you all know). One big downside to cast iron is that if it cracks a little or has standing water in it then it will begin to corrode. After putting a camera into the pipe on the roof that's exactly what the plumber discovered. Our pipes had corroded so badly that our kitchen sink was draining into the soil under our house. No bueno.

It was kind of a blur for me after that. There was talk of pulling up my floor, jackhammering into my foundation, digging holes under the house. I was nauseous and I cried in front of the poor plumber. I'm sure an emotional chick with two kids running around was not what he bargained for that day. He wrote up a quick (and very expensive) estimate and planned to return in the morning to turn my house upside down.

Jason stayed home the next day (Wednesday) and I took the kids to his parents to avoid the work. We were only planning on being gone for a day and having everything back to normal (my perfectly decorated, absolutely lovely and comfortable normal), by Christmas Eve. Okay. I could deal with that.

The kids and I actually had a great time that day. We played at Gigi and Pappaw's house. Honey was there as was Aunt Emmy. Gigi and Emmy and I took Jack and Caroline to see Tangled, we played with Annie (the puppy), and we made cookies. Nice!

Back on the home front things were not so good. Every time I talked to Jason the news got worse and worse and worse. The original plan was to put one hole in the floor in the living room. Then there was a need for two more holes in the kitchen and finally for another hole in the hall bath with a tunnel going from the kitchen to the bathroom. Not only was the work getting more extensive but the cost of the repair was climbing. Drastically.

The living room
By the end of the day, the decision had been made to fork out the dough for all the work and get it done. The kids would spend the night at Gigi's and I'd go home to Jason, who'd had to stay home and watch his house be torn up all day long. It was gut-wrenching for me. Lots of tears. My "safe place" was now uncertain. And my Christmas morning at home was not going to happen.
The kitchen
When I got home that night I cried and cried and cried some more. Jason and I had to layer on the clothing and blankets to sleep because we couldn't use the heater that night because of all the construction dust (ugh) and dirt everywhere. We woke the next morning (Thursday) and let the plumber in to get back to work. After breakfast (a date - upside!) we had to take care of some business before I could go back to Gigi's to be with the kids. Jason stayed at the house to supervise the plumbing work.
The bathroom
We decided to spend Thursday and Friday with my mom, have Christmas morning at her house and then head back to Gigi and Pappaw's for the rest of Christmas day. As I was prepping for the unexpected time away from home I decided we would still have a little Christmas at home after it was safe for the kids to return. On the way to my mom's we picked up Jason and the headed up to the farm. Jason had to come back down on Friday (Christmas Eve) so that the plumber could finish up his work. He also did some work on the floor after the plumber left.

Here is my beautifully decorated Christmas tree, wrapped in plastic and shoved out of the way.
In the midst of my despair I realized just how silly it was for me to be so upset about things I can't control. After all, I have a house, even if it had holes in the floor. I have my health. I have two beautiful children who didn't really care if they were opening presents in their living room or not. I am surrounded by friends and family who not only love me but jump in to help without hesitation. And most of all the place I thought was my "safe place" is just an illusion. The only truly safe place I have in in the arms of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

That's what matters most. A baby, born of humble beginnings. A baby, laying in a manger, who would one day change the world. A baby, a King, who came to save me. And you. That's what matters most.

And as for the house, after all the plumbing and foundation was fixed, Jason and I returned on Christmas night to get the clean-up underway. We spent that evening and the rest of Sunday scouring the house (thanks Erin!)and re-installing the flooring. Here's to hoping we can steer clear of anymore money pit-like disasters for a good long while!

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