Upon purchasing our new house back in June, my husband and I volunteered to host Christmas this year for my in-laws, their 2 dogs, my sister-in-law, her husband, their son and their 1 dog.
(For those of you without the time to add that up, including my family, that’s 6 adults, 3 toddlers/babies and 4 dogs).
It was to be the first Christmas we had ever hosted and we have been in full planning mode since August.
We ordered our Christmas turkey back in October from the local farm shop (along with 40 pigs in blankets which , in hindsight, was a little excessive) and booked our Sainsbury’s online food shop delivery at the end of November.
We had a table plan, created quizzes for the evening entertainment and even moved my youngest son into the smaller bedroom so that our guests could enjoy a larger ‘guest room’. My husband even created a gant chart to plot the cooking times of the various elements of the Christmas dinner.
My sister-in-law had arranged for all the presents for her husband to be delivered straight to our house. This included a bike, a bike rack for the car, and bike seat for my nephew.
It was all going swimmingly on 23rd December; I had bedding lined up to be washed and dried and the house had been cleaned from top to bottom, but then the rain began and it was all downhill from there.
We put a few items up in the loft as part of the big tidy-up, but heard a dripping sound while we were up there. Turns out there is a hole in our roof which had been filled with a rag by the previous owners (a special thanks to them). We quickly placed a bucket underneath and vowed to sort it out in the morning.
We’d put the children to bed and were monitoring the weather situation which didn’t seem to be letting up. Our normally puddle-filled drive was fast becoming a lake and when we went to check the outbuilding/shed where some presents were stored, we were horrified to see that it had flooded. We had to quickly save the new bike that was still boxed, but as we did so the bottom of the sodden box fell out, as did the bike. It was a full-on rescue mission!
We thought we’d sorted it, only to realise that the drains were over-flowing and that our washing machine, which feeds directly into one of these drains, was therefore out of action. I was banned from using the machine that evening and as we watched the water level rising and creeping towards the house we took the decision to call out Dyno Rod.
This was an expensive decision! To be fair to Dyno Rod, they did ask us if we had soak-away drainage and that, if we did, the issue was probably that the ground was already saturated. For peace of mind we asked them to come round anyway, so they did, and after poking a stick down the drain, we we’re told that it was a soak-away and that would be £180 please.
I was thinking up all sorts of ways to be able to use the washing machine. Could I fit the hose to it and send the water somewhere else?
But we decided to leave it until the morning and see if things were better in daylight.
We went to bed and at 11pm the phone beeped. I instantly said “have we had a power cut” and then quickly realised it wasn’t the power coming back on, it was the power going off.
With the kids tucked up in bed we decided to just go to sleep, but then remembered the turkey in the fridge. I had a sleepless night dreaming of food poisoning and when daylight hit, was concerned that we still had no power.
The mobile networks seemed to be down too so I couldn’t contact any other members of my family that live nearby to check if their power was out too. So I jumped in our new ‘run-around’ (a whole other story there) and drove the short 2 minute drive to my Mother’s but there was no-one in. I drove to my sister’s, another 2 minutes away and she was without power too. My other sister lives just another minute away and I was relieved to find them with lights on and washing machine in full swing. They very kindly offered to turn on their old fridge which was in the garage and told us to bring our turkey and washing round.
As Christmas Eve continued, we were getting more concerned with the lack of power and it was time to think about a contingency plan. We bought plenty of candles and layered the boys up to make sure they were cosy enough at bedtime and agreed that if the power was not back on by 8.30pm on Christmas Eve, we would admit defeat and pack-up, ready to head to my in-laws on Christmas morning.
8.30pm came and went and I convinced my husband to give it another hour. But 9.30pm came along and still we were in darkness. We packed up the neat piles of presents for the boys as well as the gifts for the rest of the family, packed all the Christmas ‘cupboard food’, packed overnight bags for us all and even had a plan to pick up the turkey etc from my sisters at 7am on Christmas morning.
I was rather tired and emotional by this stage as I wanted Christmas in our new home to be perfect, but we went to bed shivering and feeling a bit down.
As we rested our heads we saw the light on the extension lead flash on, then the extractor fan in the bathroom started to whirr and the telephones started beeping.
We couldn’t believe our luck and I’m not ashamed to say that I did a little dance.
Phone calls were made to the in-laws and we were back in the game. Despite being exhausted, I dragged myself back out of bed and downstairs to unpack all the presents so that the boys could see them when they came downstairs in the morning.
I’m pleased to report that we had a fantastic Christmas with lots of love and laughter, but all that stress may have taken it’s toll.
I am now bed-ridden with suspected tonsillitis and our plans to head up North tomorrow morning for new Year are on hold so that I can go to the doctors.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, surely I can get back in the game once more?!?
N.B. A huge thanks goes to my eldest sister for rescuing our turkey and washing and drying all our bedding. We slept very well that night!