Some years the holidays don’t go quite as expected… like this one we suffered through years ago that I just came across again:

I don’t know how your Christmas holiday has been so far, but this has been mine:

My daughter got a frog to replace her other frog that had mysteriously disappeared out of it’s tank from Santa.  The kids had an early Christmas at their mom’s house (they are with me for Christmas Eve & morning).

Apparently Santa wasn’t too thrilled with having to make a second trip, because the frog he gave her died the following morning.

So, Mom took her out to get a new new frog, and an extra “backup” frog just in case.

Seemed like a great start, but hey, we were having my entire family over for Christmas Eve Dinner tonight, so Nat & I cleaned up the house all nice for everybody to enjoy, and got cooking with food.

After having he turkey cook for 2.5 hours, I started making all the side dishes to go with it so it would all be ready at the same time at the 3hour mark.

Then my daughter comes in distraught saying her frog jumped into the heater.  Okay, I never heard that one before.  Go into the room and she points to the radiant water heaters along the walls (it’s an old house, think of it like a radiator all around the room at the baseboard).  As far as I know, the covers on these things are unremovable, being screwed in somehow with multiple coats of paint over all of it.  So I ask my brother to take over getting the turkey out, delegate the mashed potatoes to Nat, and start trying to hack out the many coats of paint from the mouth of the screw-heads so I can try to get the cover off to rescue the hopefully net yet dead frog.  Having two Christmas frogs die in the same day might be too much for her 6-year-old heart to bear.

Anyway, after sort of hacking enough paint out to get the screw to turn a quarter revolution with the screwdriver, I ask her where EXACTLY he jumped (there’s about 12 feet of this heater on the wall).  She says that she thinks it went under the heater, not into the slot where they had originally said.

Please, please, please!  I feel around under the heater, pull out (mysteriously) two different milk-top plastic lock-the-lids-on thingys, assorted other bits of crap and lots toy bits, and feel a sort of wet squishy dust bunny.  The wet dust bunny tries to squirm away, and I manage to get it between a finger of both hands and work it out without breaking anything.

Yay!  Hero Daddy!  I take it into the kitchen (the only faucet I know it can’t get sucked down) and go to rinse the dust bunnies and carpet bits off of it.  I turn on the sink and feel scalding hot water hit my hand.  And the frog.  I pull out hand and frog, say to the frog “that’ll teach you not to jump away again” (I was trying to be witty in the face of unexpectedly hot water) and turn the faucet to cool, let it run a bit, and then rinse off the frog and return it to it’s home/cage.

Back to dinner.  Briefly.

I manage to get the steamed veggies out of the steamer with minimal fingertip burns and one of the kids comes up from the basement and says “I think the cat peed on the carpet”.  Well, as our cat has never peed on the carpet, I am somewhat confused as to what must be happening.

We go downstairs and see squishy wet footprints and the kids jumping on the carpet and little splashing things coming out of the carpet.  Hooray.  And it smells like cat pee.

Well, unless my cat drank a hundred gallons of water before peeing it out, it wasn’t him.

Searching for the source of the pee, we look in the other unfinished part of the basement and discover about 2 inches of water on the floor, also smelling like cat pee.

Not good.

My brother dispatches his wife to get their wet dry vacuum while we call the landlord and a plumber.  Surprisingly, most plumbers are not readily available at 6pm on Christmas Eve.

However, I called Roto-Rooter (I saw their commercials enough as a kid, it’s about time they got there money’s worth from me) and they had someone there in about an hour and a half.

However, he took one step in the room and said it smelled like a septic line was backed up.  Kinda suspected that, but at least the water was clear.  My brother’s wife had already returned with the wet vac and we had already sucked up over 150 gallons of smelly septic water and dumped it down the drain, which at least made it go away for a while before backing back up again.

If you want a good way to liven up a Christmas Eve dinner with your entire family, one way I don’t recommend is to fill your basement with 150 gallons of sewage.  While it keeps it lively and makes for great stories later, it sort of throws the festive mood a bit.