Sometimes, even the best laid plans go awry. This week has been all about that. As the Festive Season approaches, many of us set about getting our house in order. Seeing to things which may, in my case anyway, have been put on the long finger. The countdown is on, and the thought of having a house full of friends and family has nudged some D.I.Y. projects further up the to do list.
Our dishwasher has been acting up lately so I ordered a new one, in an attempt to preempt its demise. We are hosting Christmas dinner and I could foresee it choosing that particular day to lay itself to rest. I was happily congratulating myself at such a splendid show of adulting, when the plumber arrived to perform a routine service on my gas boiler. Fantastic, we are on a roll.
Not so much. About 20 minutes after he arrived, the plumber sought me out, the look on his face read “expensive.” He hesitated for a moment before breaking the bad news “you have a gas leak,” he said. He launched into a monologue of explanation, much of which went over me head. I desperately wanted to interrupt him and say “just tell me what has to be done and how much it’s going to cost.” Instead, I patiently waited for him to cut to the chase. The long and the short of it was he had to disconnect our supply and he would be back in a couple of days to fix it. It was probably going to cost a few hundred euro.
Far from ideal. As you all know by now, I have been on a little sabbatical from work, so these two little projects were set to put a huge dent in the remainder of my savings. The Irish woman me wanted to get to work catastrophizing and wringing my hands. However, as I sat in my very cold house yesterday, a bigger part of me began to think of all the ways in which I am truly fortunate.
For one thing, the cold for me, was a temporary inconvenience. I could be fairly certain that in a day or two I would again be warm. In fact, as I write this, I am already beginning to thaw. For many people this is not the case. For the homeless in our society, and for those who literally cannot afford to heat their homes, the long winter will be cold and cruel.
Secondly, although the outlay to get this leak fixed has drained my savings, at least I could actually afford to pay for it. Three weeks before Christmas a lot of people might not have been so lucky. We don’t have children to worry about and we had already decided to make Christmas modest, so it won’t have too much of an impact overall.
I am starting back to work next week too, so at least I can look forward to getting paid some time in the not so distant future. This would have stressed me out far more if I had no idea where my next pay cheque was coming from. On the flip side, I am lucky that I was still off this week to deal with the plumbing debacle.
One more thing I am grateful for is that the leak was discovered. The boiler in my kitchen was the source of the leak and I shudder to think how much worse it could have been. I really do believe that we take an awful lot for granted. Sometimes it takes being without certain comforts, for even a short while, to make us realize good we have it.
There have been a couple of stories in the news this week that make me feel like we are losing some of the warmth from the world. I titled this article after the first of these stories. Here in Ireland, our dedicated Christmas radio station has said it will no longer be playing Dean Martin’s classic “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” The reasoning behind this is because they feel that the female in the song is being held against her will. That she clearly wants to leave, but is being forced to stay.
When I read this headline for the first time, I was sure it must be some sort of prank. I was fully expecting The Onion or Waterford Whispers to be in the by-line. Unfortunately this was not the case. I am at a loss to try to explain this move by Christmas FM, other than to say outrage culture strikes again.
Yes, the lady in the song does repeatedly say she should be going, but can anyone not relate to that? The feeling of being so completely captivated (not captive) that you damn the consequences for a few more moments in the company of your love. I know I have certainly missed my fair share of curfews and last buses, lingering over a goodnight kiss. The song, for me, is a throw back to a safer and more innocent time, and the equivalent of “you hang up, no you hang up.” I find nothing threatening in any of the lyrics, and I feel the world a colder, harder place without the nostalgia it conjures.
In another sad development, the HSE’s staff are no longer allowed to call patients “love, dear or lads.” They must instead use gender neutral language, like patient 597, or something! These terms of endearment are a part of our culture. I have been called love by everyone from bus drivers to bosses over the years and not one jot of harm was ever meant by it.
In fact, I think I would struggle to follow that protocol myself as those “offensive” words spring forth so naturally. The healthcare providers are so overstretched, they cannot be expected to learn each patient’s name. These terms allow them to impart a caring, warm word to people on what could be the worst day of their lives.
Personally, should I find myself in hospital, I would like to be cared for by a human being. Not a sterile automaton terrified of reprisal or litigation should they dare to utter a loving word.
As my home continues to warm up, I wish I could feel that the world is following the same trend. Sadly, however, it appears that with each move towards political correctness it just gets a little colder. As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, take a little time to think about what you are grateful for. Hug your loved ones close. Fill you homes are and your hearts with warmth. Have half a drink more. Be well xxx