By Beth Buck
Anything that has the words “Christmas” and “Disaster” in the same breath sounds like the basis for a charming family movie with plenty of hijinks. Ah, if only Christmas disasters were solely the stuff of film! Any occasion that causes you to utter the words, “everything is falling to place and it's going to be perfect” almost guarantees that something will go wrong.
We're only five days out from Christmas this year, so hopefully that's enough time to avert some of the more classic disasters.
Children and Trees. I have five children, so I can say with authority that YES, when it comes to Christmas, children ARE a disaster. Any time you're doing something Christmassy with a kid and they say “uh-oh,” it is never good. Pinterest abounds with good ideas for keeping small children away from your tree. And unless they're three or four (or sometimes older!) you must keep the children away from the tree. Some people enclose the tree within a circle of connected baby gates, others don't decorate the bottom two and-a-half feet of the tree. For the last several years, my family has used a short tree and have placed it on a high table. (A more suitable tree will be forthcoming once the baby has learned not to knock things over.) And speaking of knocking things over, if you have any expensive Venetian glass ornaments in the same house with children under the age of eleven, you can just kiss them good-bye right now, because they won't last until New Year's.
Burning Christmas Trees. Few things in life are as satisfying as a live Christmas tree. The pine smell indoors is so refreshing and “Christmassy” when it's snowing outside. Tree fires are a legitimate concern, however. If you don't keep your live tree adequately hydrated (water it every day), it can be a huge fire hazard. Also exercise caution and common sense t in regards to electrical cords and twinkle lights. Remove the tree from your home shortly after Christmas or when it becomes dry.
Clogged Chimneys. (I'm looking at you, Santa.) Back in the day when houses were heated exclusively with coal and firewood, chimneys required regular sweeping. With the advent of gas furnaces, the wood stove has more or less fallen out of favor and fires in the fireplace are more form ambiance than for warmth. You will be able to tell if your flue is blocked if smoke is unable to vent through the chimney and instead backs up into the house. Check out this helpful tutorial on how to clear a blocked chimney on your own.
The Dangers of Outdoor Christmas Tree Lights. What is Christmas without putting up outdoor lights? As delightful as the effect of lights on the roof may be, you can't ignore the attendant risk of falling off the roof in order to put them there. I can think of at least three charming family Christmas films that feature this very scenario as a punchline. It is less amusing when you are the one falling. Use caution when decorating your home, and be sure to get a buddy to keep your ladder steady.
What other Christmas Disasters have you experienced? What would you tell others who are at risk for the same disaster? Let us know in the comments!
Beth Buck has been involved with emergency preparedness since her very earliest years. She enjoys hiking, martial arts, reading, and writing about food storage. Beth lives in the Intermountain West with her family.