Holiday Home Safety
Recently Consumer Reports released an article on holiday home safety. This is their annual effort to ensure our well-being, and it is usually accompanied by a video link to a Christmas tree catching on fire and burning within 30 seconds. As I reviewed the helpful tips, I reflected on various errors and disasters of holidays past:
1. The year my grandmother, who claimed to know horses, casually hitched the relatively new (and unknown) Welsh pony to a cart and took some of us for a holiday ride. The pony had his own ideas, and took off with the pony cart careening behind. After a brief but harrowing ride, the cart overturned and the passengers spilled out screaming onto the ground. A holiday hazard for sure. The pony cart was never used again.
2. The year that I launched a spy operation on Christmas Day and broke into the servants quarters to conduct some sort of investigation. I inadvertently locked myself in, and sat for hours while the family enjoyed their eggnog and Christmas dinner in the main house. The servants quarters was not the first place anyone would look for a missing child, and strangely enough no one noticed I was missing. I might still be there had someone not stepped outside and heard my shrieks and sobs.
3. The year that, due to a high level of rain, it was determined that the tractor should be on hand by the river to pull the Land Rover out in case it got stuck while making a crossing. Now, a disabled Land Rover would have been a novel event, since it crossed the river frequently with water up to its hood. Nevertheless, we drove the tractor down to the river for this very contingency. Ironically, but in full keeping with holiday home safety rules, the tractor got stuck instead. The Land Rover had to make the rescue, and this operation took most of Christmas Eve.
4. The year that my sister and I played “bartender” with a holiday bottle of wine. With no real customers for our bar, we jumped in and played that role too. We managed to drink the entire bottle. I was 10. My sister was 8. A good time was had by all.
5. The year that my grandfather mistook a pressure cooker for a Dutch oven and blew a pot of artichokes to smithereens. This occurred two days after Christmas. Throughout the holidays we found fragments of artichoke on the walls and ceiling of the kitchen. A classic home safety disaster.
6. The year that we decided a 13-foot Christmas tree was an absolute must, but never worked out the physics regarding height and weight relative to the Christmas tree stand. This tree, in direct violation of holiday home safety protocol, toppled over a total of three times during the Yuletide season. First it fell directly on top of my daughter during a holiday decorating party. It then fell over on two more occasions in the middle of the night, for NO APPARENT REASON. There is nothing more dramatic – a crash like that at 2 or 3 am and your sleep is over for the night.
I look forward every year to the Consumer Reports advisory and video, but the events described above clearly illustrate that a Christmas tree can be the least of your holiday problems. I’ve thought about issuing my own video, but the re-enactments could be extremely dangerous. I would also need the original characters and machinery. My video would turn the holiday season on its head.