Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Vacation: Hallelujah! Holy Sh*t! Where's the Tylenol?

The title of this post is a quote from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (click on the link to watch the YouTube clip) and it perfectly describes our Thanksgiving celebration.

It started so innocently.  We just wanted to see our kids and grandkids, to have them all in the one spot at one time.  Never mind that we now live in a two-bedroom, one-bath house with half the square footage of our former home - Green Acres has lots of space for boys to run and build forts and search for treasure. Family is all about togetherness, right? With some well-choreographed bathroom time, we could do this.

Amy and the boys flew in to Kansas City on Wednesday evening.  Having those two boys (ages 7 and 5) run off the plane and straight into our arms was the beginning of the "Hallelujah!" portion of our gathering.  Amy even mimicked their actions by running and jumping on Dave.  It got us a few strange looks from fellow travelers, but it was the first of many good laughs.  Mitch had arrived at our house by the time we returned from the airport bearing pizza, and Amanda and her boyfriend showed up a few hours later.  We stayed up late playing Trivial Pursuit, eating and giggling.  But, eventually, (sometime around 1:00 a.m.) we had to go to bed and we got the first hint that their might be a "Holy Sh*t" tinge to this weekend.

The girls shared the guest room, and the four guys (big and little) got air mattresses and the couch in the living room.  We were now hours past the little ones' bedtime and in a new and exciting environment with no individual bedrooms where they could relax and drift off to sleep.  Combine that with tired adults who's patience was waning and we were already questioning this plan.  Eventually we all got to sleep and began Thanksgiving day bright and cheerful.  Air mattresses and bedding were piled into our bedroom, clearing the living room for day-time use.  We shuffled in and out of the bathroom in ten-minute slots, leaving a trail of beauty and hygiene products until the counter looked like an aisle at Wal-Greens.  

Unfortunately, the plan for outside activities failed when the weather didn't cooperate - turning chilly, windy and drizzly and keeping everyone inside for most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  We did jigsaw puzzles at the kitchen table, then moved on to board games.  We prepared more food, snacked on leftovers and pie, watched movies - we even put up the Christmas tree on Friday evening and had our gift exchange with Amy/boys since we won't be seeing them next month.  

All of these activities were fun, but six adults stuck indoors with two rambunctious boys, two dogs and too-little space causes frayed nerves.  Temper's flared a couple times, but never broke into full flame, thankfully.  Amanda and Layton tried to escape by hitting the Black Friday sales, but had a blow-out, and the cost of replacing the tire and rim put a crimp in their Christmas shopping.  By Saturday morning we were fully convinced that we had lost our minds for trying this, but we could hang on for a few more hours until Amy's plane departed and the others returned to college.  But it wasn't to be...

Like something out of a Stephen King novel, just when we thought we were going to survive this adventure, we heard it....the growling, gravelly sound coming from the basement.  We listened in horror for a few minutes until I broke through the paralysis of fear and said "Dave, the pump on the well is making a strange noise."  Sure enough, the pump on our water well was grinding to a slow death.  Which meant, among other things, the men's room was now located in the shelter-belt behind the house.  Mitch had already headed back to school so, while Dave drove to town for a new pump and various replacement parts, Layton, the boyfriend I'm afraid we'll never see again after this experience, hauled buckets of water from the hydrant by the garden (on a different well) so the women still had indoor facilities.  Bless his heart!

Forty-eight hours later, the house is empty and back to it's usual only-slightly-rumpled state, the new pump is finally humming softly and water miraculously appears when we turn a knob. Two days of hand-hauling water ("How many times a day do you have to pee?") and "bathing" in a sink of tepid water brings a whole new level of closeness to a marriage, but we survived and are still smiling.  At least we were until I went to get something from the freezer for last night's supper.  I moved a box of ice cream to reach behind it, and it sloshed.  Not a good sign.  I began poking other supposed-to-be-solid packages to find them slightly mushy.  Turns out the outlet behind the freezer is on the same breaker as the well pump.  Who knew?  Not us, obviously, or the guy who labeled the breakers.  Although the freezer was running at that time, it had been off for two days while the pump was being replaced.

The thawing food has been disposed of, the pump is still humming, everyone made it home safely, most of the leftovers are gone and we can look back on the weekend with fond memories and determination to never try that again.  Next time, we're meeting at a resort!  Hallelujah - Holy Sh*t - Where's the tylenol?


  1. Hmmm...I guess that could have gone better, eh? That's just too many hiccups for one weekend. But I've been there and it's not fun. My sympathies. We, too, are learning that the guy who labelled our electrical panel wasn't the brightest bulb in the box. It's not like it's rocket science!

    Hopefully, it'll be smooth sailing for the rest of the holiday season.

  2. What a hoot. We bring these things on ourselves with the very best of intentions, but then.... Glad you made it thru with your sense of humour intact.

  3. Wow! and I thought my holiday didn't go off as planned. The bright side is, you learned what NOT to do next time.

  4. Sounds like this Thanksgiving will be talked about in years to come with how you all managed it and I'm sure lots of laughs will come out of it in the years ahead (but maybe it is still too soon for the laughs yet) But you guys were together and I'm sure that was neat, even though other things might not have worked out to expectations! And being together for a holiday is a very good thing!


  5. Oh
    But what fun times in years to come when you can laugh at that crazy Thanksgiving of 2011!!!

  6. Now that was a Thanksgiving adventure that could be a movie for sure!