My mother dreamed of having wall-to-wall carpeting in the house. She was tired of waxing and dusting the hardwood borders at the edges of the area rugs on the first floor of our 1930s wood-frame house. In pursuit of this dream, she went to Sears & Roebuck to choose the carpet, padding and to arrange for installation.
It was August when Mom made the arrangements. She asked that the work be completed by Thanksgiving -- 3 months away. "No problem," pronounced the salesman -- and the deal was completed.
The carpet and padding -- all 300 square feet in two large rolls -- arrived shortly before Halloween. However, several days passed and there was no sign of the installers. My mother made calls; promised dates came and went; and still we made games of hopping over, or trying to ignore the rolls of carpeting stretched between living and dining room.
As Thanksgiving approached, my mother lost patience with the local Sears store and called headquarters in Chicago -- she asked for and was connected to the CEO himself -- such were the times that it was possible for a concerned customer to get through. The story of the carpet was recounted once again. The CEO promised installation before Thanksgiving -- now three days away.
As my mother stuffed the Turkey and baked pies, the installers labored long into the dark on Thanksgiving Eve to complete the job -- including resetting all the furniture for guests and feasting.
My mother was ecstatic as he prepared for Christmas. He Euchre Club met in early December and managed to party without dirtying the new carpet. Other pre-holiday events came and went with only a vacuum for cleanup.
On Christmas Eve, the colonel, her brother, blew into town to spend some time with the family. He showed up early in the day and still had to wrap his gifts. Since he was not much of a church-goer, he stayed home as the rest of the family headed for Midnight Mass.
As we returned about 1 a.m., we entered the house and found my uncle rearranging some furniture. My mother caught him just as he was trying to cover up a burn in the brand new carpet which had occurred as the lighted ash on the end of his cigarette fell off while he was wrapping presents.
Fortunately for my uncle, and the calm head of my dad, the Christmas spirit prevailed in the house that early morning -- and my uncle lived to see the dawn of Christmas morning.