Chapter 12: The gift of a kitchen sink


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As our first Christmas in the house approached, we settled into our routine of roughing it. We had a warm bed in the larger of two bedrooms downstairs. We had a toilet and tiny sink vanity upstairs. We had a bathtub and shower downstairs.

We had no kitchen sink anywhere.


Our kitchen lacking one critical element... the sink

When we had to use “the facilities”, we would trek upstairs to use the toilet up there. When we showered, we gritted out teeth and braved the chilly December air coming through the cracks in the subfloor under the newly installed bathtub and got in and out as soon as possible. When we had to clean a dish or utensil on the odd day we didn’t get take-out or go to a restaurant, we cleaned them in a small plastic bin in the bathtub. It reminded me a lot of camping.

I had always been one to go all out for the holidays—decorating my current abode and filling the air with the smells of Christmas goodies. I figured I could still do a little decorating to make it feel like Christmas. That would have to suffice since we didn’t have a kitchen sink, let alone a clean space to roll out cookie dough. And since both of us were traumatized by the bathroom-plumbing incident, plumbing the kitchen sink wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

One Sunday only a couple of weeks before Christmas, I was sitting in the women's Relief Society meeting at church and the women were having a discussion about Christmas traditions. We were asked to share our Christmas traditions aloud. I sat there listening to wonderful suggestions. All of them sounded lovely—traditions I wanted to incorporate into our lives to make the season merry. But they all sounded so unattainable from the place we were at with the house.

I finally raised my hand and shared, “Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve found joy in the Christmas tradition of baking cookies and making homemade fudge or English toffee from the recipe my mom had always used. But this year is different. I don’t even have a kitchen sink. So I’m learning that I have to find joy in the season in other ways that are within me. This year, I’m learning a valuable lesson about what the true meaning of Christmas really is.”

After the meeting, a newfound friend approached me and said, “If you really want to bake Christmas cookies, I have a wonderful kitchen with a big island that’s great for making cookies. You are welcome to come over any time and bake as much as you want.”

I was very touched by her thoughtfulness. Even though I couldn’t imagine myself taking her up on the offer, the fact that she had been willing to open up her home to me was gift enough.

Our attempts to decorate for our first Christmas


Our first Christmas tree in the house


Only a day or so went by, and we got a phone call from one of the men in our church congregation. He told us that his wife had been in the Relief Society meeting when I had made my comment. He then said, “You need a kitchen sink. I’m going to come over and install it for you. You will have a kitchen sink by Christmas.”

His blunt no-nonsense approach left us little room to object. Had he not said it in the way he had, Hubby probably would have simply said, “Oh thanks for the offer. We’ll call you when we’re ready,” and then let it go, never to take the man up on his generous offer. I think the man knew that, and he knew exactly how to approach the situation so he could get in to install that sink. He was bold. He was brief. And he meant business. He got Brent to commit to a day later in the week when the installation could happen.

Later in the week, we had another newfound friend (and his wife) in our home. In one evening he installed the kitchen sink and fitted all the plumbing while his wife and I sat in the living room and chatted to get to know one another. In a few short hours, we had a running kitchen sink instead of a hole in the countertop. It was the best Christmas present anyone could have given us—running water in our kitchen.

That Christmas, I learned so much from the example of that couple. I learned what it really means to have a heart willing to serve one’s fellowman. Many people feel charitable at Christmastime. Often the benefactors of that charitable sentiment are bell-ringing Santa’s outside department stores or toy/food drives sponsored by local fire departments. The people who truly benefit from our charity are often faceless and far removed from us. That Christmas in 2000, I realized that not many of us go the extra step of seeking out and finding benefactors personally, and then taking the steps to serve them in the way they need it most.

In the past decade, I haven’t been able to live up to the example of the stellar couple that gave us the best Christmas gift we've ever received, but the bar they've set has me I’m always looking to try.

The most wonderful Christmas gift we've ever received... a kitchen sink!
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1 comment:

  1. I finally had time to sit down and read the last two installments. I love this story about your kitchen sink. I don't think I'd heard it before.
    I can hardly believe that you've been at Rosehaven Cottage for so long!

    BTW I love your happy curtains! ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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