Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Muted Christmas this Year

That’s the best way I can describe out Christmas season so far: muted. We have put up no decorations. We attended one party so far, of our adult Life Group at church. I wrote the first draft of our Christmas letter that will go out with our cards, but so far Lynda hasn’t reviewed it. And we will significantly reduce the number of cards we send out. We have done no Christmas shopping.

The reasons? Busyness. Health. Apathy.

I’m still working through the whole rheumatoid arthritis outbreak that hit me in July. I’ve seen a rheumatologist twice, and actually all affected body parts seem much better. I’ve been able to resume walking for exercise a little, and can sleep mostly pain free. Lynda has been taking physical therapy for bound-up muscles that don’t want to work the way they did twenty years ago, or even five. I think she’s marginally better than she was at the beginning of the summer. Meanwhile, we aren’t particularly excited about the physical effort involved in decorating. We may yet do some.

We won’t have much of a Christmas here this year. We’ll drive to Chicago a few days before to be with our son and his partner in their new house, and will return a couple of days after. Lynda’s brother will be in town, so we’ll have some quiet times with him and their mother. Rumor has it that we will possibly have a visitation of grandchildren and their parents over New Years, but we’ll have to see if the rumor is true.

But, as it turns out, we have one other very good reason not to decorate right now. Back in April or May we had a hailstorm—enough pea to grape-sized hail to cover the deck like snow. Then, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we had another hailstorm of similar size and intensity. At some point in the Spring one of our skylights began leaking, allowing a trickle of water to run down the skylight well then along the ceiling then down the adjacent wall. I couldn’t remember if this leakage was before the first hailstorm or not. At least four times since then, in heavier rains, water has come in.

It suddenly occurred to me over the weekend that maybe the two hailstorms had caused roof damage. And maybe, though I couldn’t remember for sure, the hailstorm had damaged the skylight. If so, this would all be insurable loss. So Monday I called the insurance company and initiated a claim. I asked them, while they were at it, could they assess damage from a couple of blown off and loosened pieces of siding up at the top of the chimney, 30 feet above the ground in an inaccessible place. That happened in a different storm, I told them, but would they please evaluate it.

Yesterday the adjuster came out, and by the end of the day we had a sizable check in our hands. Of course, I left the house today without picking it up to deposit it. We will be getting a new roof and new skylight. They will re-do the sloped ceiling in the large room where the damage took place. They will paint the stained wall in that room. And they will even fix the siding on the chimney, all as one claim (even thought I did not represent it as one claim). Today the restoration company called me, wanting to come out today to look it over. I think the repairs will move quickly.

What does this have to do with Christmas decorations? The room where the damage is is the room where we put our Christmas tree, and most of the other decorations. If we had put the tree up before Thanksgiving, and the Christmas village and the garland by the fireplace and along the banister, and the manger scene, and the many Christmas knickknacks as we usually do, these would have been more things to protect. I probably wouldn’t have bothered calling the insurance company until January, if I remembered to call at all.

I find that Christmas decorations might help with the Christmas spirit, but I’m good not having them this year. Christ in my heart is decoration enough.

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