The lake at Christmas with family is a good place to be.
We planned to spend an idyllic few days together enjoying the company of our children and grandchildren, enjoying the quiet of the lake, enjoying the holiday season.
Alas and alack, idyllic is not really our family way.
Marty and I, with Nykkie our caregiver in tow, went to our lake home on Christmas Eve. Our kids and their kids came Christmas afternoon.
Little Lily, daughter Erin’s daughter, had an ear infection so she had to stop and see a Doc in the Box and get some medicine. The infection didn’t slow her down and she was in perfect form when they made it to the lake.
We did the kid Christmas thing and the grands were appropriate in behavior and gratitude. There really is nothing like a child, in particular a grandchild that opens a gift with wide eyes as they say, “Yes, just what I wanted.”
That same night, Christmas night, I stepped out the back to take Maggie the geriatric dachshund out for her nightly duty I smelled the night air, it didn’t smell good. At first I gave it no thought, a random stench, it happens. I went back out later and the smell was stronger so I got my flashlight and looked around and spied a puddle around our septic tank, sure enough that was where the smell originated.
I know next to nothing about septic systems but I knew this was different and clearly not right. I went to bed a little puzzled, a little anxious at my sewage.
I went out to check the air the next morning and I couldn’t smell anything. Okay, the night before was an aberration, or so I thought. After a morning of clothes washing and dish washing and bathing the smell was back and the puddle was bigger, not a good thing with eight adults, three children and ten more on the way.
I called several folks until I found a kind soul to come out and look at the system. He proceeded to educate me as he pumped crud out of the tanks and replaced a pump, problem solved…..not so much.
For the evening of post Christmas day I spent my time going out and lifting the lid to our septic tank and turning the pump on and off to empty the tank to the appropriate level. Let’s just say I got to know my kids, inside and out, they are kind of gross.
We all made a vow to reduce our water output to support the empty tank program. About the time of Marty’s shower things began to back up…literally. Toilets refused to flush, clothes refused to be washed and dishes piled in the sink. And then the clothes dryer quit heating with a load of wet clothes waiting to be heated.
Somewhere during the great Christmas Septic wars daughter-in-law Sarah announced that little Emma, the youngest of our beautiful and marvelously behaved grandchildren, was running a fever. Sure enough baby girl had red cheeks, red eyes, snot and a cough. She was a walking, talking, laughing Petri dish, bless her little heart.
That night, the night after Christmas we, as a group, made the decision to abandon ship early the next morning. The kids left early the next day. Marty, Erica and I, like captains of a sinking ship, stayed to organize, clean and discretely flush a toilet from time to time. We went back to Waco that afternoon.
The dryer there didn’t work either.
Now this could be the Christmas from hell but no one was harmed and these are all first world problems. They are terribly inconvenient problems, but none of them, even the illnesses, are life changing problems. Do they produce anxiety, yes, do they require changing plans for 20 people, yes.
My sister stepped up and hosted the hoard on Sunday and we completed our family Christmas on time and in good fashion.
I wish we could have stayed in the lake setting. I wish we could have spent that beautiful calm Christmas with my beautiful calm family. Ah, who are we kidding, its chaos when everything works.
Besides, in spite of it all I still got to do this as I lay in bed with the grandkids watching Curious George:
And I got to do this with my bride:
We had a good time….in spite of the first world problems…..that’s a family Christmas.