This year's Thanksgiving holiday will be a bit unusual for me and my family, to say the least. We will be celebrating the holiday, with all the usual food and revelry, except this year it will take place in our flooded and torn-up home. (Blog links here and here and here for anyone wanting to read about my firsthand experience in a horrific weather event that took place in Houston last Memorial Day.)
Yes, you read that right. We will be roughing it in surroundings that include concrete floors, and no walls or half walls separating rooms. The kitchen counters are propped up by two by four lumber beams, as all lower cabinets were tossed in the remediation immediately after the flood event.
The big question I get asked at least a dozen times a week it seems is where we are living. Acquaintances at events or at the local stores know we were flooded and our home was destroyed, thanks to my blogs and word of mouth. So the logical question, of course, is, "Where are you living?"
At the time immediately following the flood, we did not know our home would be "totaled." (Totally destroyed as a tear-down.) We spent a lot of money getting the water removed with fans, blowers, dehumidifiers, and then teams came in to tear out drywall, flooring, and all lower cabinetry so that mold would not grow any place that water touched. All of that money was wasted of course, but we did not know that at the time.
As the process of evaluating whether we could salvage and remodel our home went on, more problems arose from the water damage, making it clear that the home was a goner and would need to be demolished.
Yet we needed a place to live, and we needed to pack up the upper half of our home, so once the home was dried, cleaned with bleach and micro ban, and everything wet was removed, we began to live there again for what we thought was a short-term period of time.
With a long timetable on plans for demolishing and building new, it was clear that we would not be out of our home for at least six months or more. We figured we were hearty enough to stand living in a home that had no walls or lower cabinets, no hot water in the kitchen, no dishwasher (the hot water heater and appliances flooded).
We even joked that our home decor is post-flood-modern, or contemporary log cabin. My husband worked hard at making it as comfortable and habitable as possible. We replaced some basic furniture and settled into our log cabin. We use plastic containers for cabinets. To further demonstrate my sense of humor about our situation, I posted this photo on social media of my legs and feet against the naked bathroom with exposed plumbing pipes, because I am known for my vacation photos showing my legs and feet in the sand. It's really funny in a pathetic way.
The bottom line is that our short-term plan didn't turn out to be so short. We are still in our home, still roughing it in less than attractive surroundings, and without a fully functioning kitchen. We are still working through plans to build new, but again, it is a tedious and long process.
I also learned that we are not the only ones doing this - there are plenty of people in our area doing the same, living in a torn-up but safe home, awaiting the next move. In fact, someone told me that there is a term for it: flamping. (That stands for "flood camping" and it is true that sometimes we feel we are camping out in our own home while living in a partial structure.)
So yeah, we are flamping.
Now with holiday season rolling around, and with Thanksgiving imminent, I had to figure out where I would cook and have my Thanksgiving meal. I knew, since I always cook and bake for Thanksgiving, that I would want to do the same this year. So that's just what I will do, in our rough, makeshift kitchen conditions; with hauling in hot water from the rear of the house; with a human dishwasher instead a machine; and with borrowed pots, pans and utensils since most of our kitchen things were packed up in endless and unlabeled boxes stacked floor to ceiling when we tore out cabinets. I will host only my immediate family, a change from previous years, and I will make a festive looking table, even if it isn't my comfortable dining room set that we normally sit around.
And then we will all appreciate that despite our surroundings, we are all healthy and we are together, eating delicious Thanksgiving fare. We will be thankful for having a roof over our heads, even if it is not pretty, and we will think of others who struggle with keeping one over theirs. It is sure to be a memorable Thanksgiving, as it will be very different from the ones before, but it will also be the last one in our soon-to-be-demolished family home, and we will be thankful for the farewell holiday there as well.
Wishing all a happy and thankful Thanksgiving.
Read my regular blog at www.arlenelassin.com.