We got the news on Halloween day, in the midst of costumes and Elsa braids and where’s my treat bucket.

Our furnace is unsafe, the technician said, and we really shouldn’t use it anymore. It is 21 years old, after all. We’ve been heating and cooling the house on borrowed time for the last few years, so we knew this news was coming. It was just a matter of when.

So that must be why it didn’t occur to me at that very moment that forecasters had called for a freezing cold weekend and we needed to figure out how to stay warm. That and the fact that trick-or-treating was starting and the girls had already bolted out the door before my brain could register much of anything.

Late that night, as Marc and I decamped to the family room couch after wrestling two sugar-laden little girls to bed, it hit me: we need heat. We had one space-heater, but I worried that it wouldn’t be enough to keep all of us warm through the night.

My first thought: neighbors.

I didn’t want to disturb them with late-night texts, so I put out a call for space heaters in our Facebook group. Within minutes of that post going live, our next-door neighbor was at the door with a space heater.

And then the flood began. Texts, calls and offers of help and heaters rolled in over the next hour and clear through the weekend.

Nearly a week later, I’m still overwhelmed with gratitude. We are blessed with the best neighbors on the planet. Our own little cul-de-sac village, plus a dear friend down the street who seems to have a sixth sense when people are in need.

And don’t even get me started on my husband. He sprang into action the very next day, ripping out duct work and clearing our crawl space of decades’ worth of accumulated junk. He hauled away metal and insulation and the very furnace itself, clearing the way for today’s installation (hallelujah) and saving us a few thousand dollars. There were moments this week, like when we were kneeling together to measure the space to be cut for a new vent and I saw his sweat dripping onto the sub-floor, that I realized how much I love this man and how very much he cares for his family.

My dad also came to the rescue, helping Marc over several days to do the heavy lifting and hauling and driving all over town to dump everything in the right places. Mom cooked us hot soup on one of the coldest nights and insisted that we sleep over. I feel so blessed not only to have my parents nearby, but for all the ways they love and support us.

We survived this week by the grace of people who care for us.

How lucky we are! And warm. So very warm.

elsa and elsa

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4 Comments on a lesson in gratitude

  1. It’s great that you have such good relationships with your neighbors. It’s times like that when you learn to really appreciate some of the simple things in life. Not material things, just friendships.

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