In my family, we celebrate all the major holidays — Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Festival of Sleep Day (always Jan. 3) and, of course, National Ice Cream Day (the third Saturday in July, which means you just missed it but fortunately have a lot of time to start planning for next year’s festivities and harvesting waffle cones).

But most of all, in my family, we celebrate narrowly avoiding disaster. We embrace the joy that comes with knowing that some catastrophe — generally of our own making and of course totally unnecessary— was just barely averted.  Then we rejoice in the absence of a disaster that never should have remotely happened in the first place.

I think there’s a term for this in German. It may be wiener schnitzel.

But in case you’re not exactly following what I mean by this, let me explain with an example.

The first time my wife and were heading off to Europe for a vacation, we had an early flight to catch. So we set the alarm clock for 7. Unfortunately, we set the clock for 7 p.m., not 7 a.m., a perfectly normal blunder if you’re a total idiot. We got up late and would have missed our flight and our vacation completely if not for the taxi driver who almost killed us and everyone else on the highway on the way to the airport.

When we raced onto the plane at the very last moment, out of breath and without a suitcase that we had forgotten in the crazy rush, we nevertheless felt much better than we would have if we had just gotten there at a normal time, with all our suitcases. We had averted disaster and my wife started cheering during the safety briefing.

We had another one of these kinds of celebrations this past week.

As is usual, our celebration began with a simple task: We were trying to book lodgings to attend a wedding next summer in Portland, Maine. We went through the usual protocols, including making sure the place we were staying had adequate wi-fi and a bed.

We reserved the room, paid with a credit card and committed to not stealing the guest soap in the bathroom.

Normally, we wait until the night before to make this kind of reservation, figuring that a better rate would be available seven hours before arrival. But no, this time we would be responsible.

We were, then, so pleased with ourselves until we received the confirmation email that congratulated us on having booked our lodgings in Portland, Oregon. Apparently, that’s nowhere near Portland, Maine. We might have to miss the rehearsal dinner.

So now we had to cancel the reservation even though there was an iron-clad no-cancellation policy. It took us several emails, a couple of phone calls, lots of pleading and promising to return a number of guest soaps before being told the reservation was officially cancelled.

We celebrated by setting the alarm clock.

Advertisements