“Let’s go to Starbucks for breakfast Chase. I’ve got to get out of the house.”
He could tell I was hangry. My day had started at 5am and it was close to 8:30am. In the time in between I’d only had a latte which wasn’t nearly enough to absorb the shock of discovering the dishwasher wasn’t working. My barely two years old dishwasher. The appliance I use more than any other.
On the way Chase gently said, “Mom I feel bad for you. Everything is falling apart.”
“It’s upsetting,” I said.
The last few months have been crazy with what I call, “projects”. This is a euphemism for repairs I suddenly have to coordinate. It would appear that a mutiny was organized by the appliances and various systems in the house. Of course, all this started during a planned remodel of Chase’s bathroom which was supposed to take only 3 weeks and now we’re at 8 with probably another week to go.
The mutiny started with a piece of furniture delaminating. It was an inexpensive piece so I dismissed it as a fluke. Then during the remodel, we discovered our roof was failing. This is a HUGE-size issue which beyond the repair work has turned into a legal matter. Hence the word “project” really fits.
The roof was followed by the furnace, dishwasher, microwave, two computer printers, one file server (and its back-up), Chase’s car battery, 7 window shades, and our back gate which is now propped up.
If reading the list is exhausting imagine living it. My front door feels like a revolving door with repairman circling through and I’m spinning with it. Buddy is also exhausted because protecting me from all these strangers requires a lot of barking.
However, that’s not the hardest part. The challenge for me is not taking it personally. When one thing after another goes wrong, I have this knack for blaming myself. My internal monologue somehow says, Kären you should have had the roof inspected after your insurance company replaced it? (As if anyone does that.) Why didn’t you buy an HP instead of a Canon printer? Consumer Reports may have signed off on the appliances you chose but you were wrong to trust them.
What all these break-downs have somehow become about is my imperfection—not the low standards or prevalent dishonesty in certain trades. I know this is crazy but when nobody accepts responsibility for their work the blame has to fall somewhere so I take it on. The minute I confess this I know it’s ridiculous but that’s not stopped the crazy train in my brain.
At the Starbucks counter while Chase was ordering I spotted a penny on the floor. When I reached to pick it up, I noticed Santa was having coffee. I thought he was more of a cocoa drinker but there he was mug in hand with Mrs. Claus at a tall-top sipping his latte.
“Look Santa’s here,” I told Chase. He scanned the room and because he wasn’t wearing his red suit it took him a minute to find the beard and belly.
“Is that Mr. Hale,” he asked.
“You know he’s a Santa right.”
“The one with the tattoos?”
I went over to say hello and the Hale’s could tell I was a little frazzled. They asked what was going on so I gave them a brief rundown. This prompted a short discussion about how things just aren’t built to last anymore. Santa quipped that at the North Pole they’re all about quality. Then I suggested I must have been naughty this year because it’s been a rainstorm of coal this winter. This is when Santa got serious and said, “This isn’t about your integrity it’s about theirs. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’re just a consumer who wants what they’ve paid for. This isn’t about naughty or nice. It’s about right and wrong.”
I’d swear I could hear sleigh bells after he said it. I knew he was right but apparently, I needed it said by a more authoritative voice than my own. The anxiety I came through the door with washed away. Santa had spoken and who would argue with a character that embodies the spirit of Christmas? Not me.
As I ate my Santa blessed breakfast of oatmeal (doctored up like a cookie) I realized that the gift I need most this holiday season is a little self-love. The things falling apart around have nothing to do with me. Bad things happen to good people just like bad things happen to bad people. This is life and it’s not about naughty or nice. People do bad work and stuff breaks but to let it break your spirit is not what Santa wants. I’m pretty sure it’s not what God wants either. Leave the blame on the shoulders where it belongs not your own.