Christmas completely snuck up on me this year. I wasn't feeling it at all, completely disconnected. We got together presents for the kids, and I laybyed some Harry Potter lego (both halves of Hogwarts) for acerbicmuffin. As a family we chipped in to buy a fish farm in Laos through Oxfam. We started doing this a few years ago, after my brother and I realised we were just exchanging vouchers of the exact same value, and had been for a few years. Pooling our money to buy something for people who really need it seemed to be much more in keeping with the season.
Christmas day itself was chaotic. The kids got ridiculous amounts of gifts, as usual. Ours seemed to go down well - we made sure to sneak in a book for each of them! We had messages from friends near and far, including miss_m_cricket, ted_the_bug, and even expoduck in Manchester, which was awesome. We visited my aunt and her weird christmas lunch with her husband's family, a collection of very unusual people. On the way there, we were hit by an amazing storm - huge amounts of rain and hail. We joked about getting a white christmas in the middle of summer. We had our christmas lunch, where mum overcatered to a stupid degree, as always (four roasts!) We had the traditional bitching that Carols by Candlelight isn't as good as it used to be, and they hardly even have any carols anymore, it's just commercial now. In short, it was finally starting to feel like christmas!
Then the rain came back.
The second storm was at least as heavy as the first storm. The kids were actually quite scared. And then we noticed the rushing sound. Looking down the basement stairs, we were greeted by the sight of a fast running stream of water. We had experienced some minor flooding in the basement before, but nothing like this. We ended up with all of us in the basement, sweeping out water. lil_miss_morbid avoided much damage to her room, which was just off the basement, which was a huge relief. After several hours of slogging, acerbicmuffin and I came back to our room, ready to crash - which was when we discovered our carpet was weirdly dark-looking. And squishy. The entire carpet was soaked. We frantically moved everything we could away from floor level. Here's another huge relief, very little was damaged: I lost my Worldcon stuff, and Tanya lost a pattern book. We had to spend the night on the folks' couch bed.
Boxing day lived up to its name. We packed all of our belongings into boxes so we could clear the room and rip out the carpet. We've spent two nights on the couch, and then two nights with AMAZNGLY generous and supportive friends: Miss RB (of no fixed URL) and jesusandrew and 17catherines. I can't express how much this meant to us. I'm sure someone would have snapped if we'd had to stay in what's essentially my brother's lounge room for one more night.
We're now back in our own room. We have bed, chairs, laptops and tv - everything else is still boxed and in storage. We're exhausted, and it's not been much of a holiday. But we're okay, and most of our stuff is undamaged. It could have been much, much worse.
Upcoming posts: work trip to Swan Hill, holiday to Tasmania, and Secret Gig with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer!