On the day before Christmas Eve, I finished my shift at the hardware store, picked up my mail at the Post Office, and stopped at the gas station, where I picked up a few things: frozen pizza; a bag of barbecue potato chips; a box of “pot-stickers.” At the counter, I joked that, “it’s evidently going to be a junk food holiday!”
I had the next four days off, and was looking forward to a mellow, relaxing time. All Christmas cards had been sent; all packages were mailed. I had a chicken to roast on Christmas day; beyond that, I had no intention to fuss over meals. I had my supplies from the gas station, and a pot of soup to warm up if I felt like it. I was going to put away the gift-wrapping clutter, and give the house a “once-over,” so that I could enjoy its tidiness. That’s how it started out.
The dogs and I took our walk down the Fox Lake Road. I gave them their dinner while my pizza cooked. I read through a nice Christmas letter, and taped the last few cards onto the mirror. I started a movie and watched it while I had dinner. Then I got up to clean the kitchen.
Pizza generates few dishes. From my entire day, I had only a few items in the sink: one coffee cup; one lidded soup bowl and an insulated mug that I had carried to work; one small plate; one fork; one spoon; and the knife I had used to cut the pizza into sections. I could have just left the dishes, but I like to wake up to a clean kitchen, so it’s worth the small effort. I started filling the sink with soapy water. I picked up a bowl that was in the drainer, and opened the cupboard to put it away.
That was the start of my nearly disastrous holiday.
Without a bit of provocation – I didn’t pull or lean on the cupboard; I barely touched the knob to swing the door open – the entire thirty-six inch overhead cabinet came off the wall, and down on top of me! There was no time to react; I had barely enough time to think “yikes!” as assorted dinner plates, soup bowls, jars and vases rained down on me. I have always assumed my last words would be something like that, as I absentmindedly did some stupid thing that caused my demise.
Not this time, though. Instinctively, I turned, and deflected most of the weight of it away from me. I took a breath. Assessed the situation. I wasn’t broken, though I was standing in a mass of shattered dishes. One shoulder was sore, I had a bump on my forehead, and I’d jammed the thumb of my right hand. Not bad. I called a friend, just to share the enormous, scary, “holy shit” moment that it was. Then I started cleaning up the mess.
It didn’t take long before my racing heart had slowed down, and I’d begun to see the positive aspects of this disaster. First, I wasn’t killed, nor even badly injured. Second, I’ve been planning for quite some time to move the refrigerator over to this spot in the kitchen; I was stopped by the huge effort involved in moving the cabinets. Now, that job was half done! Third, this manner of weeding out of the excess was far less painful than trying to make those decisions on my own.
Last, and of utmost importance, are the things that were saved. Four vases: one that my friend Judi had given me; another from my friend, Carol; a third, handmade by my friend Ruth; and the fourth made by my friend, Susan. Several food storage containers made it through. One soup bowl survived the fall.
On each of the knobs on my cabinet doors, I have small ornaments hanging. On these doors I had: a felted wool, copper and cork Christmas tree that was a gift from my daughter, Kate: a painted shell ornament that my daughter, Jen, made; and a woven paper star that I’d learned to make in a class held by my now departed friend, Larry. All survived!
I had a set of four red plates that I’d bought several years ago. They were a part of a Jaclyn Smith collection for K-Mart. They are small, for dinner plates, and have an embossed floral design on the surface. I just love them! They were stacked on the lower shelf in the left side of the cabinet, on top of four larger black glazed dinner plates and a red and gold hand painted chicken plate that I had recently picked up at the Resale Shop. On top of them was a celadon green ceramic plate and a pink glass dessert plate. All were smashed. Except for the four red plates that – by some holiday miracle – tipped out onto the countertop, still stacked together, and completely intact!
This wasn’t without loss. I liked my cupboards. Though they were “bottom-of-the-line,” I saved several years to afford them, and it was a big improvement to my kitchen. When I painted them several years ago, I added poster-like images on the inside of each cabinet door. The doors and drawers are adorned with a wild collection of mismatched knobs, a gift from my daughter, Kate. But, as catastrophes go, this could have been much more dreadful. So, I avoided the worst this year on the holidays…I’m hoping yours were equally disaster-free!