This morning S woke me up at 5:30 and said, "If you plan on showering before work this morning, be sure to give yourself enough time to head over to mom and dad's. Our pipes are frozen." (This is an approximation of what he said, I'm sure. I am as much a morning person as I am a winter person.)

We're no strangers to frozen pipes. This photo is from the first time they froze two winters ago and nearly emptied our well into the yard, creating that huge patch of ice. (FYI that big structure is the garage; the front half has since been torn down.)

Fortunately, that's the only time they've ever burst--and they've frozen at least two dozen times since then. When cold weather strikes we usually keep the faucet trickling to keep the water from standing still inside the pipes. I'm sure someone will criticize us for that, but burst pipes that empty our entire well are not a better alternative in my estimation. Until we finish the house, it's an issue we're constantly thinking about when the weather is cold. It's just the reality of living in this half-done house.

A different reality is setting in for me lately though, and I can't shake it. There's currently a population the size of Dallas living in flimsy, makeshift tents in Haiti. Forget a day of frozen pipes--their limited water supply makes them sick, and they have no sanitation system whatsoever. And that's just one tiny country in a world full of shockingly impoverished people... while I rank among the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world. (And in all likelihood, so do you.)

Maybe this is off topic, but I've been so disgusted at how the blogging community has been cranking out holiday "gift guides" and pushing people to buy unnecessary, overpriced trinkets. Meanwhile, food pantries are empty and charitable giving is down. I appreciate nice things and beautiful homes as much as the next person, but the more I read blogs and watch commercials and absorb messaging for products, the less I want to buy or consume anything at all.

I understand that people need to buy and sell things to make a living. Buying and selling and beautifying your home aren't inherently bad at all from what I can tell, and gift giving is a beautiful thing. But do we need to be so selfish? (Do I? I mean, did you read my last post about the doorknob?) What kind of lesson does it teach our children to have piles of presents under a tree? How much stuff can we possibly use, when so many people have absolutely nothing? It can be so easy to want, and so hard to say no.

I am a proponent of freedom though, so I think people should be free to spend their money however they choose--which is why I've been hesitant to publish this post. I just hope more people will start living with more purpose and be willing to give a little more to people who are truly in need. I have never been one to buy a lot of unnecessary things, but still, I have so much more than I need. Even though I live in half a house with no kitchen, I really do have more than enough. As the rest of our renovation progresses, you have my word that I will consider these things very carefully. Practical things don't have to be ugly, and beautiful things don't have to be expensive.

Now, back to the frozen pipes. It's inconvenient, sure. It annoys me, absolutely. One of my friends from college is visiting this weekend--who knows if she'll be able to flush the toilet? Which is why I will be keeping a tally in the sidebar about how many times our pipes freeze this winter. (We're really going to try hard to prevent it, but they froze so many times last year it was comical.) It will give me something to laugh about when I start to get frustrated. But like I said--hopefully we won't get to that point.

Now that I've gotten preachy and started to feel awkward about it, I don't really know what to say from here. Today stunk in so many ways beyond the frozen pipes--a pretty frustrating day according to my normal living standards. I hate winter. But I do feel something like a new kind of Christmas spirit growing, and it has nothing to do with presents or carols or twinkle lights. It's more along the lines of thankfulness for what I have, compassion for those in need and a sense of personal responsibility for helping the poor however I can.

And if I'm being truly honest with myself, I shouldn't just be feeling this way at Christmas now, should I?

UPDATE: As of April 15, the danger of pipes freezing is done for the season. In total, this year they only froze 3 times for a total of 8 days without water. Not bad--much better than last year!


  1. i liked this post. mostly because it sums up how i feel this time of year (minus the frozen pipes). my husband went to haiti for 2 weeks last year right after the earthquake. we are trying to go back together again this winter. it's amazing how much we take for granted, but it's hard when it's all we know.
    the commercialism is my least favorite thing about the holiday season. the stubborn side of me wants to forget about gift-giving and hide in my house until it's all over. but i live in this world and we have to each find our own way to deal with it. i think just being mindful and grateful for what we have goes a long way. :)
    have a fun weekend with your friend!

  2. Thanks for the timely reminder about the true spirit of Christmas. Hope you have a love and laughter filled day.
    (and of course good luck with the pipes. - I'll tink of you when everyone one around me is wingeing about the heat here in Melbourne and complaining because their air conditioning has broken down.)


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