At this time of year, many families gather together to celebrate the seasonal holidays and the joy of spending time with one another. Occasionally however, things don’t quite work out as planned. For my family and I, this year’s Thanksgiving celebration turned out to be just such an occasion: a time when everything went wrong…
The house in which my family and I live is very old. The main section was built well over a hundred years ago, and at one point in time, the ground on which our home was built was an asparagus and peanut farm. To this very day, by digging in the right spots around our property, peanuts can be unearthed. The main section of the house was constructed with wood from the farm’s barn, and it was from this humble beginning that our home eventually came into being. My Grandparents bought the house and property over seventy years ago, and from the time of purchase to the time of his death, my Grandfather kept the house in an almost constant state of remodeling and construction. Over the years my grandfather had added many rooms and improvements to the house’s main structure, hand hewn hardwood floors and bookcases, a master bedroom and a huge kitchen; and a hand-dug basement complete with stone fireplace. In the fifteen years since his death however, many parts of the house have become dilapidated. My Grandmother remained in the house until approximately six years ago, and even though my family and I did the best we could to help her with the houses upkeep, my Grandmother’s physical needs became a priority and the house was allowed to enter a state of disrepair. My Grandmother’s physical care needs eventually became too great, so she moved to Colorado so that her daughter could care for her and look after her day-to-day needs. It was at that point that the house went up for sale and my wife and I had a decision to make.
Even though we knew that getting the house back into shape was going to take a great deal of time and money, the thought of the house being taken over by strangers was too much to bear, so my wife and I decided to take the plunge and purchase the house for ourselves. Over the last few years my wife and I have managed to get much of the remodeling and improvements done, but the one project we had yet to tackle was the kitchen, and this oversight proved to be the undoing of this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.
Much of our home’s original plumbing has been replaced with the few exceptions being that of the kitchen and the bathroom. A sudden cold snap spelled doom for the aging waterlines that fed the kitchen sink. The disastrous flood came without warning, and even though quelling the flood was as simple as turning off the water main, the broken waterlines laid deep within the walls and sub flooring of our flooded kitchen. Replacing them was going to be a real challenge. Even though Thanksgiving was only a few days away, we had no choice but to cancel our gathering and tear into the kitchen to replace the broken plumbing. There are two things that must be understood about our home for you to be able to grasp the complexity of our situation. Firstly, when Grandpa built something, he built it to last. Tearing out the old sink and cabinetry was no small feat, and many obstacles had to be overcome to get to the broken water pipes. Secondly, our home is host to a large number of ghosts and spirits, and changing anything in our home is enough to attract their interest: an invitation to come out and play. It is during the times of intense remodeling however, that a very special guest makes his presence known. The spirit of my dead Grandfather; The ghostly carpenter…
My wife and I have always viewed Grandpa’s participation in our remodeling endeavors to be a sign of his acceptance; a sign that he is pleased with the changes that we are making to the house in which he put so much of his love, time, and effort. During our remodeling projects, my wife gets overly concerned about whether or not Grandpa will like the changes we are making to the house, and in particular, the paint schemes that she has picked out. If several days go by with no signs of Grandpa’s presence, she worries that he is unhappy with us about the remodeling decisions that we have made. Grandpa can make his presence known in a variety of ways, but his favorite by far is by using his spectral hammer. From just around nightfall, and extending late in the evening, the sound of hammer-fall can be heard in the general area in which we are concentrating our remodeling efforts. The sound of a handsaw can also be heard, and Grandpa will oftentimes move paintbrushes and boxes of nails around in the rooms in which we are working. He once neatly stacked a pile of baseboards that I had haphazardly thrown on the living room floor, and in less than a minute’s time, stacked buckets of paint into a pyramid while my back was turned. In no uncertain terms, Grandpa lets us know if he is unhappy with our organizational skills.
So this year’s Thanksgiving came and went without the family gathering in our home that we had planned on. I did, however, manage to cook a small turkey breast in our destroyed kitchen, and my wife and I enjoyed a humble albeit tasty Thanksgiving meal in a living room filled with pots, pans, and boxes of kitchen utensils. And even though we missed spending time with our friends and family, we were treated to an increasingly rare visit with Grandpa, and we didn’t spend a single minute regretting the household disaster. We didn’t stop our remodeling efforts with the new plumbing, sink, and countertop, and we now (with the exception new flooring) have a beautiful new kitchen to enjoy.
Although I understand and accept the cycle of life and death, I miss my Grandfather. He was the kindest, most patient and loving man I have ever known, and in many ways he is responsible for the man that I am today. A good man I think; a man nurtured and tempered by the love of his grandparents. Yes, Thanksgiving came and went this year, but Yule is just around the corner. I look forward to cooking meals for friends and family in my new kitchen and spending time talking around a warm fire. Even though Grandpa will go into hiding until we begin our next building project and I will miss him, I have much to look forward to in the weeks to come. Hmmm… the bathroom does need remodeled… and even though my wife would kill me… what do you think, Grandpa?