Christmastime is usually a pretty insane time of year for everyone; starting with deadly stampedes in Black Friday mobs running through the entire month of December with ugly sweater parties, work events, extended family get-togethers, in-laws, outlaws ;-), Santa, bankruptcy, and OH yeah, that whole remember-the-reason-for-the-season stuff we Bible-thumpers plaster all over Facebook (is it really offensive for someone with a different religious view to you to wish you a Happy Hanukkah or, heagen-forbid, generic Holiday Season? Really?)
The kids come home from school, the presents are hidden all over the house, the tree is a baby-and-pet magnet, the weather is FRIGHTFUL….
Well, let me tell you what made our Christmas holiday season just, just that WEE bit extra AWESOME this year.
We live in Southern Ontario. In Canada. Which I know some of you think means we live in igloos year-round, but if you actually look at a map, we’re further south than about half of the United States soooo…. yeah. So we don’t have weather as easy and balmy as I hear you schmucks out in British Columbia get (I’ve never been there, though, so excuse my naiveté on that one…) but the last few winters have been pretty easy peasy on us. At least where we’ve lived.
So when it actually looked like we might have a white Christmas this year it was a bit odd, and nice, because if there’s ever a day in the year to enjoy snow, December 25th is it!
Then the ice started.
Have you ever experienced freezing rain? It’s quite something. It coats EVERYTHING, in a way snow can’t, because it’s RAIN; it’s wet, it’s liquid…and it’s ice. And it was COLD. Whether you’re on team global-warming-is-real or global-warming-is-a-giant-consipracy-theory you cannot dispute that we’ve had a pretty frigid couple of weeks down here.
(NOT as cold as the rest of you crazy Canucks who actually live in the North, OBVIOUSLY; how do you LIVE there?!)
So the rain, and the ice. And it’s frozen. Totally frozen outside. The trees, the roads, the yards, the cars….. if it’s outside, it’s literally coated in inches of solid ice.
And ice is heavy.
So the trees fall apart. And take down the power lines, and thousands and thousands of people in the Greater Toronto Area and around are without power.
Ours went out Saturday, the 21st, at 7:30pm.
It was dark.
It got cold.
Thankfully there’s a gas fireplace and a gas stove here, so we were able to keep relatively warm and still cook our food; much more than some – we know we’re blessed and SO grateful. My SIL lost her car to a collapsing tree, my MIL couldn’t get out of her home for all the wires down and debris…it was something.
So, fine. No power.
No big deal. A little uber inconvenient, and increasingly cold inside, but we’re good.
This is how you wrap presents at night without power. Yes, I am this cool.
Sunday, Monday, no power. Huddling near the fire. Laughing at the predicament, enjoying time with friends, wishing for visibility at nighttime…going to bed at 9:30 hahaha
The basement is flooded.
Apparently the sump-pump runs on, you guessed it, electricity! Which we haven’t had since Saturday night. So 3 inches of water later we discover the problem.
My hubs and my uncle get to work and hook up a generator to the sump pump to pump the new indoor pool out of the house. I managed to ‘evacuate’ the kids and get them over to a friends’ house, with heat and power for the day. The boys worked and worked in the basement.
We managed to get our hands on a generator due to the awesome generosity of friends and keep the sump pump running, hook up the fridge and freezer and salvage food.
But the house was just getting colder and colder.
Sleeping beside the fire to try to keep warm :-)
Finally the decision was made to leave the house and find a hotel; it was too cold in the house for the kids to stay and sleep! So the boys took my girls and got everyone packed up and headed off to a hotel while my mom and I stayed behind, tidied up, and prepared for the potential of the next day’s Christmas celebrations, praying all the while that the weather outside would be warm enough that we could come back to the house and celebrate – Christmas is pretty stinking exciting for a 6-year-old. I mean, really.
Mom & I finish stuffing stockings, placing gifts, blowing out candles, securing the generator, and shutting down the house for the night. And we head out to the car. Start the car, back out of the driveway.
Start to drive.
“Check tyre pressure” (yes, my parents drive a car that’s so fancy it spells “tire” with a ‘y’).
Mom: “can you call Dad.”
……yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a flat tire. On Christmas eve. On our way from evacuating the powerless, heatless house.
Me: “HI, Dad! The car says ‘check tire pressure.'”
Dad: “Don’t worry about it.”
…..so we don’t worry about it. But neither of us are TOTAL idiots, Mom or I, so…. we’re pretty sure we’re driving on a flat tire. Which is brilliant.
And, honestly, we’re killing ourselves laughing; what are the odds?
Arrive at hotel. Verify flat tyre. Yup, it’s flat! And now ruined, too! Cool!
Fun, eh?! You can feel EVERY bump in the road when the ‘tyre’ is flat!
Merry Christmas to us, Merry Christmas to us! Merry CHRISTMAS to uuuusssss…. Merry Christmas to us!!
Inside we’re warm, we’re comfy. The girls are both still wide awake at 11pm. But we’re snuggling and laughing and we’re okay – we’re calling it a Christmas to remember, the Christmas from Hell, Christmas by Candles, and whatever else.
Which one of those tyres is a donut? hahaha
Christmas morning. My hubs checks the house, and all signs look like power has been restored sometime in the night! 4 days without power, and our own Christmas miracle; it’s back on in time for Christmas day, opening presents, and roasting a beautifully stuffed turkey. (Mom makes the BEST. STUFFING. EVER. You might think yours does, but I guarantee you you’re wrong. You’ll get over it.)
So we’re packing up getting ready to go back to the house; Mom & Dad take the kids down to enjoy a nice Christmas continental breakfast while the hubs and I get showered and ready to go.
So I’m in the shower. Which, I mean, honestly, is a naked activity; I don’t generally wear clothes in the shower. No, scratch generally…I NEVER wear clothes in the shower. I find it gets me a bit cleaner to let the water actually get to the skin, you know?
I step out of the shower. Where I admittedly had been for and overly lengthy time (it was so WARM and there was a LIGHT and it was soooo….hot…shower….aaaaahhhhhhh) and the bathroom was PRETTY steamed up. Like, a LOT of steam.
And the fire alarm starts freaking out.
What?! Crap! How long was I in the shower? How much steam is there in here?!
Until the hubs opens the hotel room door and verifies that the alarms are going all down the hallway.
There’s a fire?
There’s a fire??
There’s a fire.
I’M FREAKING NAKED.
We can’t see the fire, so, quite frankly, I’m not running out in the FREEZING cold, dripping wet, and NUDE. I grab some clothes and dress as quickly as I can, we grab our coats and the girls’ coats, and we race to the stairs, outside, and around to the front of the building to find our kids.
And no one is outside.
We go back inside the hotel with the peeling bells of Christmas morning and everyone’s just going about their merry business like nothing’s going on.
Apparently someone burnt the toast and walked away to let the place burn down? Maybe he/she just knew we needed a bit more fun in our dull lives? No idea.
The fire department came, the toast was extinguished, the offending toaster not reused, the hotel company laughing merrily at the Christmas from Hell having a fire-and-brimstone aspect….
And we went home. And had a MARVELLOUS Christmas. It was just perfect. We cooked, we gifted, we played, we ate… it was probably better a day than if everything had gone perfectly smoothly leading up to it, honestly.
And we thought it was over. I mean, there was still all the fallout – a basement full of ruined stuff to go through, sort, throw away, a hefty tire-replacement bill (Dad said it was the best money he ever spent, just getting us to the hotel! hahaha), attempts to de-ice and de-snow the vehicles…. on the 31st the hubs and I spent over an hour and a half trying to get one of our cars out of the driveway so I could go to work before we finally gave up and called a tow to drag us forward the foot we needed to get some traction – I was 2.5 hours late for work.
Then New Year’s. Nothing much to report thank GOODNESS. I had a rough day being so late for work and it putting me behind schedule so was a little on edge with my family when I finally got home, but apologies and hugs on the 1st and we’re all golden.
So back to work on Friday.
At least that was the intention.
I was driving SO carefully.
Wednesday night it had snowed down near where I work (about an hour drive from where we live), and partway there on the highway it wasn’t totally cleared; the plows had been through, the road wasn’t snow-COVERED, but there was some snow.
And as always happens, I didn’t know my wipers weren’t in tip-top wiping condition after the ice storm until after I’m out on the road and can’t blooming SEE anything. So I’m driving, and I get behind someone, and I try to clean off the windshield….and it doesn’t work very well.
So I VERY CAREFULLY try to merge over to the passing lane to get away from the nice, thoughtful person driving in front of me spitting crap up all over my car so I can’t see anything.
And I pass, and I move back to the middle, where it’s clearer.
Do be do… driving when it’s hard to see is a bit more adventurous than usual driving, but I manage to actually CLEAR the windshield. Hooray!
Until I end up behind someone else. Who, gosh darn it, keeps spitting crap from his tires up into was WAS my view!!
So I check. And I signal. And I’m aware of the car to the right of me, and the car in front of me that I’m going to pass. And I ever-so-slowly begin to merge left to pass the offending vehicle.
And my tires decided they’d had enough.
Fishtailing on the highway going 110km/hr? HOLY CRAP. I worked with the steering to try to get some sort of control, but it’s just…not going to happen, honestly. I got it from left, to right, and then right went to completely perpendicular to traffic, which was pretty exciting. And I got the car back to straight…and kept sliding left. Left, left, left….until I SMASHED into the cement median, TRIED to throw my skull through the driver-side window, and then the car BOUNCED off the median, spun to perpendicular-again, and sailed ACROSS THREE LANES OF TRAFFIC and landed in the ditch.
Somehow I didn’t hit anyone else.
Someone stopped, called 911. Ambulance came, firetruck came (and left – didn’t need them, thank GOODNESS), cop came….
I’m fine. I was in shock. My head hurts. I don’t have a concussion, but I hurt. I feel pretty punk and just out of it. Shock has worn off. I’m bloomin’ exhausted ALL THE TIME, but it’ll pass when I’m all recovered.
School starts back tomorrow. Our kiddo is disappointed, but apart from not seeing her constantly I’m SO looking forward to it, because I honestly can’t take any more of this “vacation” time!
How was your holiday season?? ;-)