Do you remember those holiday disasters that, at the moment, seemed like an epic failure, but years later at another family holiday gathering the conversation starts, "Remember when?" What follows is belly laughter and fond memories as you recall those tense moments.
Several people are willing to share their disaster-turned-memory stories in an effort to help all of us remember not to take life too seriously ... even the holiday disasters.
"John and I were got married during the holidays 23 years ago," says Kathy Schleier. "We went to Canada for our honeymoon to ride the transcontinental railway from Edmonton to Vancouver. Our first night in Edmonton, the fire alarm went off at 3 a.m. and we had to stand outside in 20-below weather while they checked the hotel. This should have been a sign.
"Our train to Vancouver arrived 2 hours late because kids in Montreal were playing chicken on the tracks. We got halfway to Vancouver and the train stopped because the front engine froze, then lost power to heat water and cook, so no meals were served in the dining room.
"We finally arrived in Vancouver, much later than scheduled, picked up our rental car and drove to our hotel. We planned to visit Victoria the next day. As we were pulling into our hotel, it started snowing. We had heard Vancouver got very little snow. That night we had a record snowfall and everything shut down. So much for our visit to Victoria. We look back now and laugh, but it was not funny at the time. We were really disappointed."
The Schleiers finally made it to Victoria a couple of months ago to celebrate their 23rd anniversary.
Susan Bosworth recalls a day several years ago when their extended family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving.
"We spent the day playing games and catching up," she says. "A beautiful table was set. Everyone found their place at the table and the food was laid out. My mom opened the over door to a raw turkey. She forgot to turn on the oven. The funniest part is that no one noticed that the smell of turkey was not in the air!"
When Gene Blair was a new 2nd lieutenant in the Army in 1976, he and his wife, Vicki, were stationed in Germany.
"I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes and more all sitting on top of the stove and counter, ready to eat," Vicki Blair recalls. "I turned around to put ice in our glasses and heard an explosion! I turned back around and my pumpkin pie was sliding down into the hot burner that I had neglected to turn off after the green beans were cooked. The pie plate had shattered out from under the pie and covered every bit of food in sight! We threw it all in the trash, put on our coats and went to the mess hall. We spent our first Thanksgiving with 200 men. They thanked us for coming and we knew it was where we were supposed to be."
Between now and the new year there is great potential for the best-laid holiday plans to go south. Keep calm, carry on and remember what matters most -- relationship. When things get a little crazy, remind yourself: You're just creating great memories for future holiday celebrations.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.