The 12 plagues of Christmas
And it came to pass that the holiday season approached, and the people set about making preparations.
Throughout the land, they procured gifts from shops and Internet, commencing on the day that has come to be known as Black Friday.
They baked provisions for holiday festivities and packed belongings for travels near and far to be with kin.
But time grew short, and as tempers flared, the Fates looked down and apparently decided to teach the people a lesson or two about patience.
Family and friends alike were stricken with illness, water leaks, animal infestations and construction snafus, among other calamities.
Here, for posterity, is a recounting of the Plagues of 2013:
1. Pestilence. And the Fates proclaimed: "As you have grown lax with your cleaning, we shall smite the dust of your houses that it may become lice throughout all the land." And in the neighborhood, much combing and vacuuming and washing of laundry commenced, and the people worshipped the dryer god.
2. Car problems. And the Fates said: "By your child's hand, we will burn out the battery of your car, so that it shall perish, and the engine will runneth no more." But lo, with much last-minute phone calling, a new battery was procured, and the car did starteth again.
3. Leaves. And the Fates said: "We will delay the falling of leaves until long after the city pickup. Though you rake, your leaves will wither in the bags until spring."
4. Trimmer mishaps. And the Fates said: "Because you boast of newfound hair-cutting skills, we will strike your hand to carve a bare patch upon your son's scalp." There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth until the expert touch of the barber restored calm to the house.
5. Snowstorms. And the Fates said: "Even as holiday travel draws nigh, we will send snow upon the land until it piles 9 inches deep." Only the kindness of friends and neighbors didst save the people from endless shoveling.
6. Killer icicles. And the Fates said: "We will stretch out our hands and form giant icicles upon the gutters of those who faileth to remove their leaves." And everywhere the people climbed onto icy roofs to cleaneth the gutters, lest ensuing rains floodeth the basements.
7. Leaky pipes. And the Fates said: "We will spew the water forth from the pipes between your walls, and only the most expensive of plumbers will be able to restoreth your service." And the people didst cry as the Christmas fund disappeared.
8. Leaky washer. And the Fates said: "Let the water also flow from a worn hose in the washing machine (see Plague 1), a rare part that shall not be found until after your holiday travels." And the people fled to the laundromat, where two scientists didst loudly ponder the wonders of the silicon chip.
9. Construction mishaps. And the Fates said: "Ye who dareth to undertake home improvements, do not tempt us with your cut-rate handymen lest we fill your basement with sewage." And the check was withheld until the work was repaired.
10. Vermin. And the Fates said: "Let the rodents run among the houses, avoiding traps and causing great havoc." And the people set some free, only to see them return. Others met their doom.
11. Blood. And the Fates said: "Woe unto those who have teeth pulled just before the holidays, as they shall be slow to heal." And the people returned again and again to the room of emergencies for follow-up work.
12. Christmas blight. And the Fates finally said: "Let not one but two viruses befall your family over the holidays." And the people didst sneeze and cough and be upset of stomach.
The year finally ended, and the people rejoiced. "Surely," they said, "2014 cannot be as bad."
I say unto thee, do not tempt the Fates.
Julie Wurth blogs about kids and famlies and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 351-5226, email@example.com or Twitter.com/jawurth.