Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

For most of us Americans, “Boxing Day” is a Canadian holiday noted on our calendars as the day after Christmas. I don’t think many Americans know what it is. My interpretation is that it’s a day where you give gifts to the less fortunate members of society—you box up some unneeded items and donate them to the needy.

My friend took Boxing Day to a new level.

Let me back up a bit and tell you the Tale of Two Ovens. My oven hasn’t been working for a long time. Instead, I purchased a microwave/convention oven to do my baking. That was until earlier this month when it would no longer bake. I mentioned this to my friend who happens to have two ovens: one gas oven in her kitchen that came with the house she bought, and an electric oven hanging out in the garage, waiting to be installed into the kitchen. They were trying to use up the propane in the tank before they switched ovens.

She took pity on me and decided to give me her gas oven. Yipee! I can bake again! After the guys spent a good portion of Christmas Eve doing the oven switcheroo, I was baking with gas again.

I wish I could say the same for my friends. As my husband puts it, “No good deed goes unpunished.” On Christmas, they were going to bake a ham. But while their oven was pre-heating, it became apparent that mice had made a home somewhere inside and were now becoming crispy and—to say the least—smelly.

It wasn’t good timing for them. Grandma and Grandpa were flying into town to visit them. They had even invited us to come to dinner on Boxing Day. But would my friend give up because she didn’t have a working oven? No way! She took it as a personal challenge.

She made a box oven out of a cardboard box, foil, and wire hangers. She cooked biscuits in the box oven, heated with hot charcoal briquettes. She made other items on the stovetop. We had a wonderful dinner.

Now we feel bad that we took their working stove. I guess I’ll have to have them over for dinner!

Christmas Eve Eve Adventure

Don’t ask me why, I’m not sure, but we went to visit my Mother-in-Law on Christmas Eve Eve. She lives about 2 hours away. So, we got her presents together, the children dressed and went to visit Grandma for a nice Honey Baked Ham sandwich lunch. After a nice afternoon, it started raining outside. We decided, at 4 pm, that it would be best to go home before it got dark. Besides, we wanted to go to our neighbors caroling party at 6.

Everyone else had that idea too.

The roads were a slippery, crowded mess. Some bridges, exit/entrance ramps, and overpasses were closed to allow salt trucks to do their jobs. Traffic was at a near standstill. We tried to take back roads, but they were backed up too.

Two hours later, we were still only a few miles away from our starting point, and we had a long way to go. After finally getting away from the traffic, we made our way outside of the city and slowly driving down a relatively lonely highway that follows the Ohio River. We took it easy and didn’t have any problems. I probably made some people mad because I refused to drive faster than 45 mph. It was still raining and the temp was at exactly freezing. I wasn’t going to take any chances, especially with the kids in the car.

After a brief hamburger pit stop, and stopping to get beer (an essential), we finally turned onto our road after driving for 5 ½ hours. I could just see me holding that beer in my nice warm living room at any time now. Forget about the party, they’ll understand why we just didn’t feel like going somewhere else.

I was slowly driving down our road, going “the back way” as we call it, since we normally don’t arrive from that direction. It’s a winding and twisting little road that goes pretty steep at places. I wasn’t too worried—I’d never had any problems before.

The last mile or so is probably the most steep. At some point, however, my car would not go up any further. In fact, after spinning my tires for a while, the car started going backward and sideways. Not good—there are steep drop offs.

We had to abandon our car and hoof it the final ½ mile climb to home. Fortunately, I was smart enough to stuff a small flashlight into my car and just happened to have an army duffel bag in my trunk. I also checked my emergency kit, but there wasn’t anything we needed. It wasn’t that cold, but we bundled up anyway. I was a little scared because I was wearing boots that are not practical for walking. So we packed some things into the duffel bag (including the beer!), locked up the car with a note on the windshield, and started up the steep road to our house.

It was slippery. We had to walk on the side of the road as much as we can. Some places we had to walk on the road because of the drop-off beside the road. I held my 3-year-old daughter’s hand and would not let go. We walked, in the dark. The kids were doing great. My husband gave commands, and I complained about my stupid boots.

Up ahead, we saw some lights. We were scared of encountering head-on traffic, so we found a spot where we could get safely off the road and wait for them to pass. But they didn’t move any more. So we walked some more. As we got closer to the stopped vehicle, we noticed it was the cinder truck. It was stuck, with one tire off the road and uncomfortably close to a drop-off. They were desperately trying to back the truck up, and it was not going anywhere except down into the mud. If it weren’t for a retaining pole, it would be doomed.

Good thing we didn’t try to drive my car up the road further—we would have had to stop anywhere—there was no getting around the stuck truck.

We made it home, safe, and tired. Thank goodness we got some Netflix in the mail.

I haven’t left the house since, and I got rid of the boots.