“The crapper’s down.” My dad’s voice echoed through our one-bathroom house. I waited for expletives, but none came. Well, it was Christmas Day.
My mom’s relatives were coming in an hour. Twelve extra plates for dinner unless Cousin Richie was still in jail.
I found my dad upstairs by the toilet.
“Son, we need a backup plan.” He laughed, “Get it, back-up?”
I was 7 and always said “yes” when my dad asked me if I got it.
He moved fast, setting up two makeshift toilets—buckets —outside by a pit where we burned garbage. He hung a canvass tarp from the clothesline to separate men from women. At the end of the line he built a fire to keep patrons warm in the winter cold.
When the relatives arrived, there were groans when he made the announcement about the temporary restrooms.
“How temporary?” asked Uncle Mack.
“24 hours,” said my dad.
“Don’t complain—it’ll be like the old country,” said my grandmother in broken English as she headed for the liquor cabinet.
It might have been a perfect plan if the canvass hadn’t caught fire during dinner–flames were visible from the table. Two of my uncles, full of vodka and staggering, tried to douse the flames with snow. My dad grabbed a hose, but it was frozen. Finally, all 15 of us threw snowballs at the fire and each other.
The Crapper Christmas happened long ago–I miss it. People laughed more back then than they do now. But I have two bathrooms just to be safe.
(I hope you share this day with family and friends in peace and harmony.)