An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Have you ever heard the oldsters wax nostalgic about the Christmases of yore?  The simple, handmade gifts.  The stocking with a single orange and a handful of nuts.  The real candles fastened to the tree.  The outhouses.  Okay, so they did omit a few details.  But I am here to illuminate you, because on Christmas Eve we discovered that the septic alarm was tripped.  For those of you who may never have had the joy of learning about septic tanks, the alarm goes off when the holding tank is full.  You then call the septic pumpers, who come and empty it for you.  (This is only for those of us whose soil can’t support a septic field.  I could go on about the various models of septic systems, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post.)

We did not actually hear the alarm sound because for some reason the alarm’s bell had been flipped to silent mode.  We suspect kittens were involved.  So there we were on Christmas Eve, looking at the red light indicating that we had about three days to get the tank pumped if we didn’t want raw sewage to start backing up into our house. How long had this little light been red?  It is housed in the basement, where we don’t go that often.  Neither of us could identify the last time we were sure the light was green.  We called the septic pumpers, but knew that they probably wouldn’t come out until Monday, 4 days away.

We set up a bucket in the kitchen sink to catch all our water, and we emptied that bucket several times a day by dumping it out back.  We took bucket showers.  And we set up a lidded container for our toilet paper so that we didn’t have to flush unless we had to go #2. We used the smallest amount of water we could to brush our teeth and wash the dishes.

And you know, it really wasn’t bad. It made me realize how easy it would be to take more water-conserving measures. The septic pumper came today and we are starting the new year with an empty holding tank.  But I already feel a little nostalgic.  Maybe next year I will try lashing flaming candles to a dead evergreen in my living room to see if that, too, will enhance the meaning of Christmas for me.

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