Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebration Failure Complete

December 26th is Boxing Day in Canada, so I was certain there was no way we would be able to find an appliance repairman willing to come to our house. I was proven wrong in this instance, as my husband went alphabetically through the listings in the Yellow Pages until he managed to connect with a live person at the other end of the line. 
The conversation at our end went something like this. “What? Could you please repeat that? Stikine Street. No. Stikine. S.T.I.K.I.N.E. No, I said Stikine. S as in Sam. No, Sam. T as in tango. Hello?" 

Normally I would have had “needs to speak English” as one of my requirements for an appliance guy, but six guests arriving the next day meant these were desperate times.  Although I am sure that what followed when he finally found our house (three excruciatingly painful phone calls later) was informative, I didn't understand a word he said, so will have to gloss over the finer details and skip right to the diagnosis. 
Apparently, judging by the gesturing at the top panel of our stove, there was a problem with the computer components. Now, as any owner of an appliance that has had a digital death knows, this is the worst possible news. The ESL appliance guy's animated head shaking seemed to indicate he did not have the replacement part. 

As Jay handed him a $100 bill and showed him to the door I noted that the repairman’s communication skills had improved remarkably when it came time to collect his payment. Resigning myself to the fact that I would have to wait until Monday to get my oven fixed, I did the only thing I could do. I hauled out my crockpot cookbooks and started pouring over recipes. I was going to have to rework my "cooking for a crowd" menu plans.
As it turned out, and keeping entirely with our holiday theme of 2008, I needn’t have worried myself about feeding all those people without a working oven. On Boxing Day evening my brother phoned from the airport in Chicago. The city was completely enveloped in fog and all flights were cancelled. Not a single flight was getting into or out of the city. There were so many people rebooking flights that they could not fly out for another two days, which would leave them only one day to spend with us. The trip was cancelled.
Karsten and Diana did manage to make it, and it was lovely to have them here in spite of the gloom we were all feeling. I wish that I could report that that was the end of the string of failures that followed us that Christmas season. It wasn’t. Our electric tea kettle’s automatic shut off broke. This resulted in the water in the kettle boiling off, leaving a red hot appliance searing our counter. Not only was the tea kettle toast, so was the steamed woodwork on the kitchen cabinets above the kettle. The replacement kettle I purchased the next day leaked like a sieve and had to be returned. 
The engine light in our car appeared as did a distinct lurching when it was driven, resulting in a visit to the repair shop. The timer on the toaster oven, which had now moved into a place of prominence as the only functioning oven in our home, caught whatever appliance influenza was sweeping our home and also stopped working. 

And the oven? No appliance store in Kamloops had the computer panel in stock. Phone calls were made, only to discover the appliance manufacturer did not have any in stock in all of Canada. They were waiting for a shipment from China.  We didn’t have use of our oven again until Valentine’s Day. It gave new meaning to the expression “slow boat from China.”
As I write this last paragraph another Christmas has come and gone. I am pleased to report that 2009 was calamity free. All appliances were fully functioning, the new tree holder did what it was supposed to do, and everyone who was supposed to be here was. I do admit that there was one scary moment on Christmas night when my 21 year old son started a load of laundry and the washing machine sounded seriously ill. Thankfully it turned out to just be overloaded, but my near panic attack made me realize the scars of Christmas 2008 run deep. 

You might ask how we managed to turn things around last year and I would have to say that I am not really sure, but I suspect it might have been when I decided to keep the outdoor lights safely tucked in their box in the garage, where they will remain as we look forward to celebrating Christmas 2010.

Christmas 2006
Grandpa Glenn, Grandma Thelma. Alex, Kellen, David, Rebekah, Diana, Karsten
cousins Danielle and Corinne


  1. It's a spectacular failure! One well worth celebrating!! :)

    I hope that is the worst you'll ever have to endure.

  2. A story to tell every year.

    I wish you a failure-free holiday this year - I think you've earned it.

  3. One year we sent Christmas cards with a picture of a man stepping back into the box of decorations.... loud crunching noises..... smashed glass, etc. Inside the caption read "Anything you do at Christmas can become a tradition!" It cracked me up! We've had our share of those years, and my kids have a saying, "It's bad now, but it will make a good story someday!" And yours certainly did! Thanks for sharing!

    Barbara M.

  4. I remember hearing all about your Christmas in 2008 through Ellen as each new catastrophe unfolded and felt so bad... Like everyone has said, it's a holiday you will all remember.

    Erin B

  5. I was feeling your pain step-by-step right up until the new tea pot started leaking. At that point the absurdity of everything going wrong gave me the giggles. I know it's not funny, it's just...the point at which I would have become resigned to my fate and surrendered.

    I'm glad that was Christmas 2008 and you managed to avoid a repeat the next year. For some reason I thought is all happened last year and I was a little worried for your 2010 gathering. I know this will be a memorable year for all positive reasons. =)

  6. PS - I don't know anyone who has seen the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol--except the people I've made watch it. This is amazing!

  7. That's disappointing, I was happy for the company. In the '38 version, Cratchit knocks Scroge's hat off with a snowball and gets fired. But he quickly regains his Christmas cheer. The Mr. Magoo version may have been more faithful to the original story, but I'm happy to overlook that.

  8. Thinking positive thoughts for 2010!

  9. Your last name is Hammond? This is really bizarre...I just found your blog not too long ago and have been curious about your adopted daughter from Korea, because not only am I adopted from Korea also (born in 1988) but my last name is Hammond too!!

    Just a weird coincidence, huh? I live in the United States.

  10. I shouldn't laugh, but these are the kind of stories that get told over and over in family lore.

    Sometimes I wonder what stories my sons will tell when they grow up.