The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 22, 2012

Mike Pound: Some holiday traditions prompt cold shoulders

By Mike Pound
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Ah, the great traditions of Christmas.

Decorating the tree. Wrapping presents. Making cookies. Singing carols. Taking cold showers in the morning because there is no hot water.

Wait, that last one isn’t actually a tradition. It is a system of a tradition. At least it is at our house. My wife and I have been married for 21 years, which, according to the Mayan calendar, means one of us is now legally insane. I would guess that we have had something go wrong during the holiday season in at least half of those years.

One year, our garbage disposal decided that it didn’t want to work, which also prompted our dishwasher to not work. On several occasions our refrigerator decided it didn’t want to work. The refrigerator usually decided it didn’t want to work shortly after it was filled with roughly 39 tons of Christmas-dinner-related foods.

There is also, at our house, the Christmas tradition of something happening to my wife. On the eve of our very first Christmas together, my wife came home from work and mentioned that she didn’t feel well. She suggested that perhaps she had eaten too much pizza at her office Christmas party.

Sometime after 1 a.m. on Christmas my wife woke me up to tell me that she really didn’t feel well.

“I think I need to go to the hospital,” my wife said.

Since I didn’t know anybody who ever had to go to the hospital because they ate too much pizza, I suggested that my wife was crazy. My wife then suggested that I was an “insensitive (bad word).”

So, even though I would have much rather stayed in bed, I got dressed and drove my wife to the hospital so I could spend my Christmas morning in an emergency room waiting for a doctor to tell my wife that there was nothing wrong with her and for me to take her home.

Which is exactly what happened. Except, instead of telling my wife that there was nothing wrong with her and that I should take her home, the doctor said that my wife needed to have gallbladder surgery and that she needed to be admitted into the hospital right away.

OK, maybe that time I might have been a tiny bit wrong.

There is a cemetery in Key West, Fla., that has a mausoleum with the inscription “I told you I was sick.” On our honeymoon, my wife and I found that mausoleum and I took a picture. On Christmas, after her surgery, I brought a copy of that picture to my wife, which made her laugh. Which probably wasn’t a good idea because evidently when you have your gallbladder yanked out of you, laughing is not a good thing.

That might have been my fault, too.

This Christmas season, the problem at our house involved our water heater.

Friday morning, I turned on the water in our shower, waited a minute and then got in expecting to be hit with hot water. Instead I was hit with cold water.

Years ago, we had problems with our water heater because of something the water heater people called a “thermal couple,” which sounded like his and her winter underwear but wasn’t. We managed to get the thermal couple fixed, but evidently the fix didn’t take. So Friday, my wife spent the day waiting for some nice guys to install a new water heater in our basement. It wasn’t what she had in mind for her first day of Christmas vacation. But now, with the water heater issue resolved, my wife and I can relax knowing that our biennial holiday disaster is behind us.

I just have to make a note not to let my wife eat pizza on Christmas Eve.

Do you have an idea for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.