“Two batches of cookies coming right up!” our daughter exclaimed. “The review says these taste better than Girl Scout cookies,” she shares. Stomach grumbling, I place the two cookie sheets in the oven. Nada. No heat. No lights. Somewhere between the five-hour turkey cooking on Thanksgiving and the sparks flying at the lighted boat parade for our towns’ Christmas celebration, our oven has had its last baking moment.
“No worries. Let’s try again later,” I say optimistically. After all, I’ve seen Frozen 2. I know how to do the “next right thing.” I don’t mean to be anti-climatic but in our house, that’s usually laundry.
I carry a huge basket of dirty laundry to our laundry room and place a load in the washer. But everything already in the washer is soaked. And the washer reads, “LOAD COMPLETE.” No functioning spin cycle- great.
I speed dial a repairman. Did you guess what’s coming?! This is no mystery novel. The prices for fixing both appliances are more than new machines would cost. Happy December!
By the evening, our fridge has begun humming and revving and my patience is wearing thin. Three appliances with issues all at once and in mid-December?! Ugh. And at 10:00 am Monday, our teen was calling from school. She felt sick. She needed to come home. She hasn’t stayed home sick for years!
I am being punked, I am sure of it. But, alas, no sign of Ashton Kutcher hiding in my front yard. These appliance limitations mean I am in a domestic lock-down with a sick kid, who, by the way, finds it boring to be at home sick. (Omg. I wish I was bored right now!!)
My well-read friends ask me if I read the article in the Times about the, “texting Shabbat.” What?! It received serious social media attention. There were thousands of discussions about taking days off of texting and/or social media. It was essentially, a viral discussion of thumbs on lock-down. I see where they are going with this and share, “I guess I am on appliance Shabbat. These opposing thumbs aren’t touching the washer or the oven.”
This appliance bust may be a blessing in disguise, minus not having clean socks and chonies.
I can’t sign up to bring cookies to my daughters’ holiday cookie decorating party. So I am bringing sprinkles!!! A total win. Moms, you get me.
I can’t wash my daughters’ favorite leggings that she insists on wearing at least four times a week. So she is actually wearing other pants! Again, a rad win.
I can’t fill the fridge in the event the train-like sound returns to this appliance and it breaks too, so I am working from simple meal-to-meal prep plans. I literally just bought Cup O Noodles and cupcakes this afternoon for a snack for the girls. Low nutritional expectations for a short while. It’s liberating, right parents?! Anyhow, like all novelties, this excitement burned off and I began realizing I would need to spend time cornering an appliance employee to order a new oven and washing machine.
On the seventh day of my appliance Shabbat, I arrive at Home Depot. After choosing an oven and a washing machine, I begin the process of ordering both with an employee. “We can get that to you on December 29th,” he says. He seems proud to share this news: like he has been eating too many candy canes and can no longer see straight.
It takes me a minute to register the information. “So, neither appliance can be here before Christmas?!” Four employees are now encircling me. Three are in training. Of course. I ask for any loop-holes in their unreasonable offer. “Can I pick up the machine and oven I want instead of waiting for delivery? I have friends with trucks!” One red-aproned employee shares without a minute to spare, “No. It’s our regulation to have to be present to hook up appliances safely.”
“Is there a possibility for an earlier date at all?” Bad idea to ask this question. The flock of Home Depot workers scatter and 1/2 hour later…they return. “No. We are so sorry. You may want to try somewhere else!”
I start to think more about appliance Shabbat. Do I need to be running around to various appliance stores to hustle and get these replaced pre-Christmas? How much do I need the oven? As for laundry, a laundry mat or borrowing the washer at a friends’ house is fine for a few weeks. I begin to reminisce about the mountain views during the snow a few weekends ago. “Take me back!,” I reflect.
I ponder, on the spot, do I want to be an angry elf? Do not judge me. Elf is my
all-time favorite Christmas movie and until the TV takes a sabbatical, I’m
thoroughly enjoying movies on the couch. I have my coffee maker. This, thank God is working! And, it’s a new moon; the last full moon of the decade. I am brimming with big energy. I can do this.
With two holiday pillows in my arms I decide no, I do not want to be an angry elf. Home Depot may not have appliances when I need them but I am not walking out empty-handed. My new, outdoor Christmas pillows read “Jolly.” And I am beginning to feel just that!
So, in the meantime and in between peeking through the front window to optimistically see if Ashton is there, I have decided to “let it go.” I don’t mean to brag, but I do know LOT of mantras from kid movies. Ha!
Let it go. It’s all any of us can do, especially parents…. in December of all months!!
I am working on staying focused on the best parts of the season. The delight in the faces of our daughters with their advent calendars as they open up the chocolate and LEGO windows each day.
The sweetness in reading to them or listening to them read to each other while I am on hold with a repair-man on a chilly coastal day.
The loveliness of their appreciation when I bring home, you guessed it, Cup o Noodles and cupcakes. Double win!!
The delight in watching all four girls decorate our tree. And after the tree fell over the same day it was decorated, listening as they chime along to Christmas tunes and re-decorate the tree!
I am sinking into the fun of being together for dinners haphazardly made in a pressure cooker.
I am treasuring the oo’s and ahh’s I heard as I watched fireworks over the marina filling me with a burst of motivation.
I am softening into the acceptance of asking for help from friends and neighbors and seeing their willingness to oblige in a heart-beat. Socks were being folded from a dear friend while Christmas lights were being put up outside by a willing college student who wouldn’t accept any money.
I am watching and listening as our daughters clean tables and serve at the Rescue Mission. They greet each person there with ease and comfortability and I see the beautiful simplicity of this, as human connection is the greatest gift of every season.
I am treasuring the sweetness of watching our daughter perform in a Christmas music performance under a starry stage, inside a high-school auditorium where above, the bright full moon has risen. All of it is part of the wonder of the season.
Our youngest asked me yesterday when talking about this brilliant full moon if the sun follows her throughout the day. Seven-year-olds have the best questions! “Well, not the sun so much as it’s light. The light is always around you. It warms your back. It lifts your spirits. It is always with you. The sun even makes the moon shine.” She gives me a long, very earnest look. “So the light is around me but I feel it inside of me?!” If the holiday performance of our daughter playing “Frosty” on her Viola wasn’t a show-stopper enough, this moment catches me. Before I have a chance to answer, one of our other daughters dives in, “Yes. The sun gives you light outside of you. You give yourself the light within.”
At that moment, I am warmed head to toe. My cheeks feel rosy, my eyes feel sparkly and my heart feels content. Here’s to a holiday season of laughing through all that didn’t really go as planned and all the love that surrounds us anyway.
Love is all we need. And the light will always follow us. May the sun, and it’s light, never take a Shabbat.