|Clark wasn't with us last night, but had he been - he'd have felt right at home.|
So my parents have these great friends that they have had since forever; lovely people with a lovely family that they don't get to see that often and, needless to say, I haven't seen them in ages. So we arranged a nice holiday dinner to catch up and make merry, as you do during this time of year.
What ensued was like a deleted scene straight out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
Our guests were scheduled to arrive at 5:30 so they could see Isla before bed. Right before they arrived my mom decided to start a fire in the sitting room fireplace, you know - for ambience. While we use the fireplace in the family room daily, this was the first time this season we were using the one off the kitchen. My wonderful mother, in the midst of the hubbub of setting the table, putting finishing touches on the dinner and getting ready for our friends, forgot to open the flue, which is kind of a big deal when you start a wood burning fire in a fireplace.
Needless to say, the house filled with thick smoke in under five minutes. Alarms began to sound and once we couldn't stop those, more - even louder - alarms began to sound. My mom started running around frantically trying to opening windows while fanning the smoke with a dish towel (an utterly futile effort) exclaiming "What do we do!?!?!" I grabbed Isla who naturally began to cry seeing all the mayhem and because I didn't exactly know what to do as this isn't exactly my house, I said, "First you need to open that flue!" (she did) followed by "Do you know how to turn the alarms off?" (She did not). We called my dad who was on his way home from work. No answer. We continued to open windows and - in general - run around like chickens with our heads cut off while being more or less ineffective at resolving anything. I finally got Isla calmed and even enthralled with all the excitement around and began making phone calls to the alarm company to call off the dogs...but it was too late.
Our lovely dinner guests arrived at our front door (which was wide open in an effort to dissipate the smoke) in the midst of this chaos and quickly sprung to action fanning smoke and opening doors before they even got their coats off. Not five minutes later two blaring, flashing fire trucks arrived. Neighbors curiously took to the streets to see what the ruckus was about as five decked-out fire-folk politely marched into the house. "Hi there!" I said, "Happy holidays! Forgot to open the flue! Sorry to bother!" I continued as each one passed by. Isla, in the meantime, kept chirping "Fire! Fire!" and smiling as they passed. The uniformed men immediately sprung to action by opening up the house, checking for carbon monoxide and trying (unsuccessfully) to turn off the alarms.
After about thirty minutes, the smoke finally dissipated enough for the frantic alarms to subside, the house was given the all-clear and deemed "safe" and the firemen left with a tip of their hats. Wine was served.
At least we didn't burn dinner.
What's your favorite National Lampoon's worthy holiday moment? Surely we can't be the only ones?