Today is Christmas.
This year, we have no Christmas decorations. No tree, no ornaments, no stockings. We did exchange gifts that we bought for each other without wrapping them. A few presents for my side of the family are scattered in front of the fireplace waiting for the owners to claim them. We opted out of the Christmas Eve service. We are not trying to avoid people, festivity, or the usually holiday hustle and bustle. We are not doing these things deliberately. We just feel that this year we want to lay low and enjoy a low key holiday season. I want to recognize that it is okay not to be celebrating Christmas the traditional ways that are done by so many others. It is okay to just spend time doing whatever we feel like. It is okay to just chill and be by ourselves.
I am not sad. I am not uncomfortable. I am actually at peace with all the decisions that we have made about this holiday season.
Given what happened to us the last couple of days, I thought I would have reacted in a much more negative way, blaming God and being angry at Him for throwing us more chaos and inconvenience on top of all the struggles and hardship that we have had in the past year. But yeah, I just feel at peace. This is a huge blessing in itself.
You see, two days ago, Bob’s car died. The more I think about it, the more relieved and thankful I am that he was the one who gave me a phone call about the news, not any emergency workers. I didn’t grasp the severity of the car’s problem until our mechanic gave us the diagnosis: the engine just totally died on our 9-year-old Suba.ru, a car that in my brother’s word was “indestructible”. That morning when Bob started the car, the engine sounded fine. All the way down the freeway for about 35 minutes, the car ran normally. It was right when he exited the freeway and had to accelerate going around the curve that he discovered that the car’s accelerator did not listen to his command. By the time he got off the freeway exit, nothing worked: his power steering lost power, his brakes failed to respond to him, and all sorts of lights were flashing on his dashboard. God protected him. It had been raining here, but it was nice and sunny on that day. The normal traffic was non-existent because of the quiet holiday week. The spot where he was waiting in the car for the tow truck to come was relatively safe compared to some spots right at the exit of the freeway or even on the freeway. Since this happened on December 23 earlier in the day, our mechanic hadn’t gone on his four-day break yet. We were able to tow the car to the shop and were also able to get the diagnosis and were given the options on December 24, the day before our mechanic’s vacation. Although the car’s engine totally died, the cost of repair is not worth our money, which means we will have to now shop for a new car, things could have gotten much worst. We could have had this problem while we are 3.5 hours away from home had this happened during our trip down the coast. Imagine being in the middle of vacation having to pay extra to tow the car back to the city while dealing with the logistics. Imagine having this problem today. The only thing we could have done would be to tow the car back home and to worry about towing the car to our mechanic’s shop after the holidays. Imagine the engine dying On. The. Freeway. I don’t even want to go there. I can’t imagine losing Bob and I hope and pray that this scenario would never happen. But that was a possibility and I am ultra relieved that the car died when the car died.
It is sad that this happened. It sucks that we are now down to one car and will have to try to purchase a car as soon as possible. It is a burden to think about what kind of car to get. We have been talking about buying a car in the past year. The decision has always been put off by us trying to get pregnant and having a baby. The cost of fertility treatment has caused us to be very cautious with our spending on big ticket items. We have earmarked our savings enough for another fresh donor egg cycle should this frozen embryo transfer fail. We have saved up enough money for a new car if/when we need one. However, I know Bob’s fear. He is afraid that we would have to hoard the money saved up for a car for another IVF cycle if both the frozen embryo transfer AND another fresh donor egg cycle fail. He is driven by this fear to save up every single extra penny that we have. When you don’t have control over the cycle, how the eggs fertilize and grow, how the embryos behave, how my uterus is receptive, you just want to control something that you think you have control over, such as money. I do get it. But, I also feel that we should have faith that the Lord is going to take care of these things if they are the right steps for us to take. If we need a new car, which we obviously do, then we will spend that money. If we need to save up more money for another cycle, then we will. I think we need to learn to turn things around and be happy that the Lord has helped us save up money so we have the means to do this. We have to learn to see things in another perspective that being blessed with good jobs, budgeting pays off. I hope we learn to be excited that a new family car is our way to prepare for our new child that will join us in the next year.
Oh you know, car trouble was not the only thing that happened on December 23. After a long day of dealing with the towing and the diagnosis and other things, all I wanted was a nice hot shower at night. My heart sank when pulling the temperature control of my shower to the right only resulted in lukewarm water at best. After finishing the quickest shower ever, I inspected the hot water heater. After reading the instructions on the relighting the pilot, I resorted to a you.tube video. Luckily I found one with the exact model of our hot water heater and learned to relight the pilot. I was desperately hoping for the pilot to stay lit so that I didn’t have to call anyone or spend any more money. But it didn’t matter how long I held that “pilot” button, the fire would not stay lit. Being tired, disappointed, and cold (because of the cold shower), patience was running thin in the household. Bob lost a half day of work because of the car problem, so he worked until after midnight to solve a problem that he had been trying to solve for a few days. I know it is easy to be down about getting hit by one bad thing after another. First the car, then the hot water heater that is only 3 years old. ON THE SAME DAY. It is so easy to be discouraged by all the expenses that we will have. But I only let myself be frustrated for a little, and comforted Bob as his day was a lot more emotionally drained than mine.
I woke up early and left a message at the two plumbing services 30 minutes before their supposed opening time. I was hoping that the plumbers would still work on December 24th. One of them called me back within 15 minutes. (I never heard back from the other one.) This guy quoted me a bunch of money, which was still within my reasonable budget, and gave me a window between 9:30 and 10:30 that same morning. Bob left for work without a shower. Two plumbers arrived on time, diagnosed the problem, fixed it, and entertained me with jokes and humor. Within 20 minutes, and a couple of hundred of dollars out of our pocket, we got hot water back.
What did I learn from this incident? Time and time again, I think that my father is the wisest man on earth. He often tells me that a problem that can be resolved with money that we have is not a real problem. We have always put aside money for house maintenance, so the cost is not a problem. I am just so thankful that this happened on December 23, so a nice plumber who decided to work on Christmas eve could fix the water heater for us. I happened to have found somebody who was very experienced in this type of water heater, so the problem got fixed beautifully. The plumber said that he had to turn away callers that day for services, so I felt tremendously fortunate that 1) the water heater broke on a day when a plumber was still willing to come, 2) it was an easily fixable problem by capable hands, 3) I got to the plumber early enough, 4) he got it done in no time. Things could have gone worse. It could have happened today and nobody would have been willing to come out. It could have been the other problem that would cost southward of one grand. The plumber said that this part that needed to be replaced usually breaks between three to five years. We moved back into the house after our new remodel on December 22, 2012. The part broke on December 23, 2015. Right on the dot. Crazy?
The plumber kept joking that bad things come in threes. He told me to go break a glass or stay in bed for the whole day. But hey, one’s gotta live life, right? Can’t avoid life by staying in bed all day. Because the heater got fixed so quickly, I got to have lunch with one of my best friends for three hours. We caught up and chatted about anything and everything. Just being very real with each other about our joy, happiness, frustrations, struggles, insights, perspectives. It was a wonderful afternoon. My friend is not without her struggles. She is a single person who wants to be married and have kids. She watches her friends reach their goals and check things off their life list, and she is still trying to find someone to spend the rest of her life with. But her resilience is such a great example for me to follow. We learned a lot from each other in those few hours.
I don’t anticipate the third bad thing to happen. But if it did, I know that I have the resilience and strength to face whatever that may come our way. These so-called “bad things” are helping me to reflect on my way of handling things and ways to change my response if needed. Who is to say that this is not a great Christmas present from God?