So we made it through Christmas alive and well, with our joy mostly intact.
The plumbers finished their work on Wednesday the 19th, so we had two full days prior to our party on the 21st. Of course, I was working full days both those days, so a lot of prep work fell on poor Jessica (who did manage to snag from help from her parents on Thursday), and then on me in the evening. So, 3 very busy days in a row leading up Saturday's party.
Saturday, I dragged out the snowblower (only used once so far) to clear away parking spaces (about ten cars, in two driveways, means you need to clear some space on the lawn). It had a flat tire! Now, if you aren't snowblower-savvy, a flat tire may not sound like a huge deal. But putting air in a tubeless tire with no seal on it is kind of very difficult. I went into full-blown panic mode while Jess got the house ready. Our first guests were set to arrive at noon and the morning was disappearing fast.
I ran to the store, bought an air pump, and struggled further. Finally, I gave up on it and decided to wait until Steve and Brenda and the kids arrived (they were coming first, a good hour before anybody else) before doing more. I ran inside and started helping Jess, the whole time picturing the three of us (myself and the other two non-pregnant adults) shoveling this 18 inches of cold snow. Ugh.
Finally, they arrived, and the three of us struggled with the "put vaseline on the rim, tie a rope around the tire method" which they independently confirmed. We ended up using some A+D Ointment because we had no vaseline, and an old extension cord because we had no rope. It took us a few tries, but we finally got it going. (I say "us" and "we" but it was really "they" who got it going. I mostly watched and ran and got things. I'm really a lousy homeowner.)
Anyway, after we got it started, I saw the gleam of pure envy and realized joy in Brenda's eyes. Evidently she's some kind of snowblower addict, and with theirs broken down she hasn't been able to snowblow for a while. So, yeah, that's the story of how my sister-in-law snowblowed out parking spaces while I showered and got ready for the party. I kid you not about the extent of her snowblowing -- she would have cleared out our whole property if I had let her, I think.
In the end, we were all safe inside by the time the rest of the guests arrived (well, except for Jess's parents, who came while Brenda was still snowblowing), and I had spent enough time catching my breath to be sane.
The rest of the day was what family Christmas always is. Gifts, food, drink, games, laughter, telling stories outside by the fire (started by Brenda, after we had decided that the weather wasn't nice enough to start one), and all that. It was a beautiful wonderful time, as it always is. And we were completely exhausted when it was over.