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22 days: not so silent night

December 5, 2014


One of the lesser publicized facts of a white Christmas in Minnesota (and just about anywhere in the Midwest) is dry air in homes and businesses. For a family riddled with allergies and sinus issues, there are definitely aspects that are not as appealing as idyllic Christmas cards of still, snowy nights. A few days ago, I purchased a humidifier for our upstairs to help with the onset of my seasonal plague of nose bleeds. Don’t get me wrong I am happy that I live in a warm (and draft-free) house on the prairie; yet, I am fully prepared to take counter measures.  I do, however, have to be very careful about which humidifier I choose because one daughter is off-the-charts allergic to mold. So there’s the rub – to find a humidifier that helps moisten the air but doesn’t moisten the air too much!

Perusing through the selections available, I purchased the one that seemed to fit best with the needs that we had. Here were the highlights of the one that made the cut:

  • Provides cool air (I am at an age where hot air is not on my wish list, unless of course, I’m going up in a balloon.)
    • Can provide moistened air to up to three rooms (exactly what I need)
  • 96% mold and bacteria free (due to UV light attachment. Well why not!!!)
    • Lasts for 36 hours (less filling and refilling!)
  • Quiet operation, fan will not interrupt sleep (Bonus!)

While I was gone for the evening, my sweetie unpacked, assembled, filled the water reservoir, and plugged ‘er in. When I got home, he was watching TV in our bedroom by the glow of the UV light sanitizer, which really had the effect of a fish aquarium for ambience. When we shut down the news, I knew we were in for a long night. I will be honest and say the light was mildly annoying (as I like it pitch black to sleep), but “quiet operation” must be industry code language for not as loud as a rock concert but definitely as loud as a jet engine.

Did. Not. Sleep. A. Wink.

As I lay awake, I started thinking about all the other purchases I had been duped by in my life. Nail art kit for kids was disastrous at best. Buns of Steel video in the 80’s could have been better labelled as a torture device. And my personal favorite was the first grill we ever purchased.

One Friday our best friends invited us over because they had bought a new grill and said if you help us put it together, we can all have a cook-out. Whipped it out the box, put the grill on the stand, and fastened two nuts and bolts, and we were cooking with gas. Literally. It was such a great evening we decided we too needed a grill. Off to the store, we found one similar to our friends with the same “Easy to Assemble” sticker on the box. Pork chops purchased, we raced home to assemble our new grill. Thank the good Lord we did not reciprocate the previous day’s plan with our friends. We opened our box to find 273 pieces and a 20 page manual of instructions. It took three days to complete. “Easy to Assemble” – my left toe!

When I returned the humidifier to the store this morning, the customer service lady asked me if it was defective. I explained it worked according to theory, but not according to needs. She could hardly contain her laughter when I blurted I probably would have gotten more sleep if howler monkeys resided in my bedroom. She read the box, gave me a understanding nod, and smacked a “Defective” label on the whole thing.

As I stood there waiting for the money to be returned, I realized how much like the misguided purchases in my past I had allowed my previous Christmas joy to be snatched away by flashy labelling, smoke and mirrors marketing, and shoulda’s (You should do this. Or you should buy that for your kids. You should have this.) I think you get the picture.

It was a pretty convicting moment.

When I pause and truly reflect, my favorite holiday memories are always about the simple things, and yet, I have been fooled more than once into believing I needed more of this or that to create a happy Christmas.

In reality, I don’t need anything more to be happy, and my kids don’t either. Why do I (or anyone else) allow the noise of the world to disrupt my heart’s contentment like crashing cymbals? I think my pledge to be present (even if it is the little moments this advent) is really rubbing off. So even though I have been functioning on no sleep, I have spent most of the day thankful for the realization of all the blessings I have, including the opportunities I have to spend with people I love.

And I am MORE than okay with that knowledge bringing peace to my mind and good will to my soul, especially if  it brings me closer to sweet sounds of a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

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