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Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Posted by kaysd (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 18, 12 at 19:54

Our house remodel is far behind schedule. We started demo on August 1 and have been without a kitchen for 4 1/2 months now. (Other areas of the house are torn up too, but the lack of kitchen is the biggest problem.) I expected the kitchen would be finished by early December, but there were delays with our GC finishing the first stages of the remodel, and now there are delays with our custom cabinetry. We won't have cabinets until sometime in January.

Our "kitchen" right now consists of a fridge, microwave and sink in the garage. Our dining set is in storage until the work is done. We do not have any family nearby, and most meals are take-out or nuked Costco/grocery pre-prepared foods served on the couch or floor. I hate that my family is eating like this.

Thanksgiving dinner was stuffed turkey breast, mashed potatoes and other Costco items microwaved and served on my 4-year-old daughter's play table and chairs. (It was actually pretty funny eating at that tiny table in the middle of our empty kitchen -- and I thought we were going without a kitchen table, lol.) We thought about going out for Thanksgiving dinner, but we have 2 young children who do not do well in restaurants, so we would not have been able to enjoy the meal. We are facing the same thing for Christmas. I would be okay with skipping the holidays this year personally, but I feel so bad for DH and the girls, especially since the remodel was my idea. We were supposed to host my parents, who live in assisted living in another state, for Christmas, and now we can't do that either.

I know we should be grateful to have a home, as other face far worse circumstances, but I am still depressed. If any of the rest of you are without a kitchen for the holidays, how are you coping?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Kaysd, so sorry to hear about your delays. Were your parents going to stay with you, or just come for the meal? If the latter, perhaps you could still come up with a meal of some sort and host them? What's most important is spending the holiday with family. Crazy idea here, but have you already purchased your oven? Any chance you could get someone to wire it up temporarily? Hmmm then you would still need to clean up (no fun with raw poultry, I am paranoid).

Perhaps you could change the formula. Don't go the turkey dinner route; instead, figure out what you can do. Fabulously fresh, chilled shrimp to start. One of our favorite meals all along has been fresh salad with a smorgasbord of options - everyone builds their own. We start with Bell and Evans breaded Chicken Nuggets (make in toaster oven), which I slice into smaller pieces. Then, I put out in individual bowls, watercress, baby spinach, lettuce of choice, sliced strawberries, blueberries, cheeses, olives, canned mandarine oranges, candied walnuts, sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced grapes, mushrooms, etc., etc, you name the option. Everyone goes through the line with a plate. (Only requirement in our home, you MUST start with some salad:). In our home, poppy seed dressing is the new ketchup, so we always have that with a few other options for others. What do the kids LOVE? Perhaps add freshly shaved chocolate or cubed poundcake and certainly, a great loaf of bread. Anything you can prep beforehand. Everyone always can find a few things they really like and it's a fun meal. If not this... cheese fondue with the great bread? Meat fondue with a selection of sauces? Please don't be depressed, perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition. Best of luck, oldbat2be


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Last year, I was separated from my husband (now divorced) and he had my daughter for Christmas. I hadn't made plans to visit relatives out of town, so I was left a bit at loose ends. In the end, I embraced the stereotype of how Jews spend Christmas--I went to the movies and went out for Chinese food. And you know what? It was lovely.

Here are some other ideas:

1) Waffles for breakfast. You need a special appliance for this anyway, so you might as well set up on the play table. Ingredients are pretty simple.

2) Go to church. If you are religious, this may be a no-brainer, but even if you aren't, you can join the ranks of C&E (Christmas and Easter) Christians and show up for the holiday service. Go somewhere with a nice choir and enjoy the spirit of the holiday through music.

3) Make truffles (you can make them with just a microwave and a fridge) and then go play Santa on Christmas afternoon delivering them to your friends. I did this on Christmas eve a few years ago, and it was a lot of fun. If not truffles, then melt chocolate in the microwave and coat pretzels or make peppermint bark.

4) Do you have a crockpot? You can cook a potroast or chili or a stew for your Christmas dinner. Or make bread pudding for breakfast. Yummm...If you don't have a crockpot, you should buy yourself one for Christmas.


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Ooooo, I love the fondue idea. So many fun things that can be done with a device designed to be kept warm with a tea light candle.


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One of my favorite Christmases was when a snow storm meant we couldn't visit our family who was having the dinner. I don't know what we ate but we went sledding and it was so much fun.

I'm guessing you feel worse than anyone else. Will you have gifts for your kids? If so, then great! Let them play all day. Do you have any big boxes from the remodel? Make forts! Stay in your PJS all day if you want. Using the food and tools you do have, let the kids make up the craziest meal they can think of. Cheerio sandwiches, etc.

You have to laugh about it or you will cry. I haven't been able to host a holiday in years as my kitchen/house remodel has been going on for 8 years. Yes that was years. We are nearing the end finally.

I 2nd the idea of going to the movies if you can find one open.

Again I will say YOU are taking this harder than the others so remember that. They will be OK and so will you.


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You would be suprised at what can be achieved in a large toaster oven ($60) and a two burner GE hotplate ($30). That's what we've been temporarily using for a year now. And we hosted two dinner parties of 10 during that time. Everyone was amazed.

When we finally get our range I will be keeping the hotplate. It works great for frying fish out on the back porch instead of stinking up the house :)


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

My cabinets are supposed to go in tomorrow. We have a sink right now -- a utility sink. I hope they don't take that away!

I hope you get to see your parents in spite of it all. Can you eat with them at the AL dining room?


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My cabinets are supposed to go in tomorrow. We have a sink right now -- a utility sink. I hope they don't take that away!

I hope you get to see your parents in spite of it all. Can you eat with them at the AL dining room?


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I second the crockpot idea!


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Last year at this time we had our kitchen on our front porch and had just gotten indoor plumbing back after 5 months without it. And when i say no indoor plumbing I mean none. We had an outside bathroom. Two things really helped us through this. First, my DH is very handy so we did have a functional, albeit, outdoor toilet and shower, complete with hot water, and our stove was hooked up on the front porch. It was a lot more fun in June than it was in October, let me tell ya :). Second, we (DH and i and two sons)treated it as an adventure. We joked about the less than gourmet dinners and the boxes stacked to the ceiling in every room in the house. I know that as we look back on that time years from now, it will bring smiles to all our faces, and funny stories. Amazingly enough, we didn't really eat out much more than normal- just cooked easy easy stuff. The crockpot on our porch was a great help. Not saying we weren't happy to be cooking inside again, but it was actually a fun time for all of us. So keep your head up and think of the great times in the kitchen ahead of you and how one day you will laugh about these less than ideal conditions.


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Kaysd- I understand how it feels. I expected to be done by summer, then fall, then by Christmas and it is still dragging on. I wish your family some wonderful memories for this Christmas. If you can, consider going away for Christmas. Some theme parks like Disney are open on Christmas and it is lovely and not crowded.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Our remodel just finished, but last Christmas was similar to yours, except I was lucky enough to be able to put my old range in the garage as well. So cooking wasn't too awful, but the makeshift plywood back wall with gaping holes was pretty bad.

I can only repeat advice from up thread - treat this as an adventure. Don't knock yourself out trying to make everything normal, you can't. Play some Christmas carols, put out a poinsettia, get a tabletop tree and it will feel more like the holiday for not a lot of effort.

As far as dinner goes, depending on where you are, there may be some restaurants that have a full holiday dinner that you can take out. Could you borrow a card table from someone, so you can have a regular height table?

Good luck! And don't feel too bad, this really is an experience that the whole family will be able to look back on and laugh at.


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You must be going crazy. I'm about to lose it an I have only been without a kitchen since the 2nd week in October. The hardest think for me is the lack of a sink. The powder room sink just doesn't cut it.
I would buy a turkey fryer and make a turkey outside for Christmas. I has planned on using my crockpot a lot but realized there was no way to wash it without a sink.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Have you tried the crockpot liners? I'm not one that is crazy about cooking in "plastic", but in a pinch (ie, no sink large enough to wash in), I'd use them for a limited time to get the experience and meals I'd want for my family. Maybe check into them.

Here is a link that might be useful: one such crockpot liner


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We began gutting the kitchen Thanksgiving weekend of 2009. By the time Christmas rolled around, we had finished the wiring and sheetrock and paint. At Christmas we had a lonely stove in the kitchen, no sink, no counters, and a fridge in the dining room, which was also full of dozens of IKEA boxes. We were using the tiny wet bar sink across the room. And did I mention I had an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 20? And that family was coming to town on the 22nd?

Crock Pot, baby. It's your friend. Chili, stew, roast beast, anything really. Oh, and I was assembling IKEA cabinets over the holiday break while I still had the drain in from my surgery. While my IT goober husband and Ph.D. Physicist father managed to cut wood for a wall wrong three times. Good times!

You've got to laugh about it. Make a game out of it. Make memories out of it. In 15 years the kids will be home to visit and laughing about "that Christmas we had no kitchen."


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You poor thing! I can feel your stress. A kitchen remodel is hard under the best of circumstances. During the holidays when you're behind schedule and have two small children only makes it harder.

I agree with the others that you really can turn this into an adventure for your kids. It's Christmas time! The kids are going to be excited this time of year and they aren't going to care what you make for dinner or how your kitchen looks. If I were you, I'd buy one of those package dinners from the grocery store deli. Never had one but I see them all the time. Comes complete with turkey and all the trimmings. Take the stress out and don't even try to cook Christmas day. Throw a big blanket on the floor and turn Christmas dinner into an indoor picnic. The kids will love it! Having young children at Christmas is such a special time and if you focus on their joy at this special time of year, your kitchen won't seem quite so important.

When I was about 6 years old, my mom and dad took the family to Disneyland for Christmas. I remember my mom feeling bad that we didn't have a Christmas tree to put our presents under. We ended up turning our hotel tv stand into a makeshift Christmas tree and piled our presents around it. Goodness sakes, we were at Disneyland for Christmas and I'm sure we did all kinds of cool things. But you know what I remember the most? And very fondly, I might add. It was using that silly tv stand as a Christmas tree. I'm 51 years old now and still smile when I think of that tv stand. :)

I survived my remodel with an electric frying pan, a rice cooker and a crock pot. There was a whole lot I could do with those! I found new recipes for the crock pot on web sites like allrecipes.com. Just search on crock pot or slow cooker recipes and you'll find tons.

Just thought of another thing. I think it was one of the GW members that let her children paint and do artwork on the sub floor of the kitchen. They drew flowers and silly designs and had a blast. She said she smiles whenever she thinks about what is under that floor.

Take lots of pictures! Your kids really will look back at this time as "that Christmas we had no kitchen." You really can make those fond memories. :)


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I freaked at the thought of new sink on Friday and going until Monday to get a plumber to reconnect the GD/drain piping! However, I love entertaining during construction -- it gives me an excuse for a messy house. Plus, people are interested in seeing what's going on. Scrabble together the meals (great ideas above for something other than Costco prepared items) and let your parents decide whether they can live with some inconvenience and non-traditional meals for a couple of days. I'm sure having them with you for Christmas will be more important than what you eat.


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My children would be having a blast with that and probably be a little bummed out once everything was back in place!

Along with many others I vote for the crockpot. You can have a great meal (maybe not traditional holiday fodder but still very tasty) prepared easily in one of those. If you don't have one they are on sale right now about everyplace I've been. You can get a nice one for $20-45 depending on the size you want.

Seize the opportunity to make a memory for this year and next year you can sit in your comfortable kitchen looking back fondly on that crazy Christmas of this year.

Make sure you take some pictures too!


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

All good suggestions above. They are right when they say its not about the food, its about the feeling that comes from being surrounded by family/friends.
I've got no walls, just cement block and windows. Fridge and microwave in family room.Still waiting for lighting to arrive and for tile guy to get back to me about cabinets.
Eating out for Thanksgiving was fabulous.No prep, no cleanup. Just eat your fill,and pay the bill. Looking forward to having someone serve me Christmas dinner too.
Dinner served picnic style is fun too. Blanket on the floor and food passed around. No ants or mosquitos!
Have a blessed Christmas and know that this too shall pass.And next holiday season, you will have words of encouragement for the next family on GW dealing with no kitchen.


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I have a brand spanking new kitchen and just broke my arm requiring surgery and won't be able to cook much at all during the hols! Of course it was my very dominant right hand! Disappointed, annoyed, but after the events of Friday, feeling very fortunate! PS I did make left handed long cooking oatmeal today! There's no holding me back! Happy holidays to all!


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You'll be making memories and have stories to tell for years! During my last remodel 8 years ago, the range was functional by Thanksgiving, but not the countertops and no sink, and I still have fond memories of trying to clean/rinse a 20 lb. turkey under the bathtub faucet!!


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

I know what a drag it is to not have a kitchen, and I didn't have to go through it during the holidays with a family. Now that I'm back in business, I barely remember it. It is just a minor blip in my life.

You've got your family with you, right? A roof over your head? I know you must be so grateful for that, considering what some people have to endure at this time. You're truly blessed that the problem is only a temporary inconvenience. Eat whatever you can muster on Christmas and plan to have a kick-ass holiday dinner once your kitchen is back online. Go to church, visit neighbors, volunteer in a soup kitchen. Give thanks.


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LOL " eat your fill and pay the bill " LOVE IT boops!


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Sounds to me like a road trip is in order! Go see your parents or go somewhere warm. The kids will learn that Santa can find them anywhere! Give yourself a holiday break!


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Last year, in September, I got plumbing in my kitchen after 5 years. We won't talk about my electricity, heat/ac, walls, and pretty much every home component you can think of. That's from where I'm coming, but enough about me.

You've been given some great ideas to make Christmas better for you. It's really impossible to be depressed for someone. Just like no one can make you jealous or guilty except yourself. This is about you. So. Have you asked your DH, kids, and parents what they'd like to do? Perhaps just be together for the holiday? Holidays happen places outside kitchens. Their answers might give you some ideas that will help you feel better about the holiday. You never really know what people expect unless you ask. And really, out of the mouths of babes...

Obesity in America could help remind you/us that every special occasion does not need to revolve around food.

As one who has gone (alone) without much of what you have for much more than 4.5 months (Lucky Girl!) my wish for you is that this is the worst thing you have to deal with in your life. Ever. Because if you can't make this workable, you're doomed in the face of real difficulties.

Sorry. No sympathy here. This is inconvenient, but not worth depression. Or whining. Get over what you think a holiday should be and make it what it can be. You're going to set the tone for this holiday for your family, so look at the bright sides (already mentioned above) and move on. Next year you can go back to this kitchen thing.

There.
Life as seen by Christine.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Thank you all for the suggestions. I never thought about crock pot liners -- now I just have to find the box with the crock pot, lol. We will go to church -- the Christmas carols are always uplifting. We are putting up a tree this weekend, amidst the boxes, and the kids will have presents. We will spend Christmas day playing and singing with them. We'll figure the food out, even if it is Chinese or pizza. (The little ones do not do well at restaurants.)

It is really not the lack of a kitchen itself that has me depressed. We have been living in 2 rooms and 1 bath for months (and very greatful for the indoor bath). What really upsets me is that the state of the house is preventing my parents from coming and staying with us for the holidays. My mom has Alzheimer's that is getting worse quickly, and being in an unfamiliar and chaotic environment is not tenable for her. We are not able to travel because the 25th is the only day I have off from work. I am killing myself at work this month, trying to make end-of-year deadlines for clients who waited until the last minute to decide they have to close deals before the tax laws change on Jan 1. I hate that my kids and parents will miss out on having this Christmas together, when I am not sure how many my parents have left. My DH loves the holidays, and has been making it very clear for weeks how upset he is, which makes it difficult for me to keep up a cheerful facade for the kids.

I know other people have it much worse. We will be lucky if this is the worse thing we have to face. (It won't be, the challenge of dealing with aging parents with failing health and little in savings might be.) I am trying to remain focused on the many blessings we do have, especially our 2 precious little girls, but right now it just feels like a perfect storm of multiple problems at what should be a very happy time of year. Thanks for letting me whine.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Deep breath, girlie.
Things will work out somehow.

Just a question.
What would your clients do if you got hit by a bus?
A lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on your part.
Family is the most important. If you could travel for one day with your parents, isn't it worth it?

Honey, don't kill yourself for people who won't remember you. You're only as good as your last bail out of their butt. You're no more important than a hair dresser in the scope of things. Like yoga teachers (which I am,) hair dressers, accountants, whatever, are chosen by proximity, referral and last success.

I'd take another day and tell them you'll be back on the next day of your choice.

Yes, I do know the demands.
But I also know you know the value of family time.

Tell DH to clam up unless he has some solutions. Quit being part of YOUR problem; you don't need to hear the obvious. Just because he might be doing it in a deep voice doesn't mean HE isn't whining!


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Kaysd, I completely understand your feelings. Going through a live-in remodeling project is tough. I have no idea how you guys with kids do it. Kudos for being strong! Best of luck!


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Don't get hung up on the date. One Christmas eve day we had my Grandmother's funeral. That evening we took my Mother to the emergency room. She had fallen and broke ribs and had pneumonia. Christmas day we visited her in the hospital.

We ended up celebrating Christmas several weeks later and it was very nice.

Plan a trip to see your parents as soon as possible.

As much as we all try to "schedule" our lives, life doesn't work that way. It took having kids to make me realize this.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

You know, I apologize.
I am extremely guilty of dumping on everyone on this board, but when someone else needs to, I can be very unsympathetic.

I guess it's the part people bring up about no kitchen for a few months, when I have gone years without. To me, that's always whining. But someone's delay is another's walk in the park, or visa versa. I do realize sometimes it's the last straw when there are a ton of other things going on in their lives.

So, kaysd, and everyone else I've been (ok,) harsh with over kitchen delays, I hope you'll accept my apology and I promise to do better and see beyond these darned kitchens we agonize over.

Christine
[slinking back under her rock]


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

The holidays are stressful enough without all the additional concern and disruption going on right now. You are doing the best your can and I'm sure not being able to be with your parents just adds more to it. Can you possibly arrange a visit with them next month?

Whatever you do, you can make the day magical for your kids and you> Buy alot of wrapping paper and wrap all the doors. String up some lights. Take a door off, line it with gift wrap and put it on saw horses-instant holiday buffet table. Do you have a card table/chairs or can you borrow one? Make 2 "bistro" tables (little lamps on table or votives with battery candles)-one for you & husband and one for the kids on your daughter's tea party table. Let the kids "wait on you" and vice versa.

When I was 4 we moved into a new house on Dec. 27. That year the only decoration we had was a little silver Christmas tree that my parents could just fold up the limbs and move. I don't remember much about that Christmas except for that tree and one particular doll I received. It made me happy every year when my parents brought out that tree.


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We do plan to see my parents in January. My dad wants to come visit because we need to find a new place for them to live with a higher level of care that is near me so I can help them more often. We will celebrate a late Christmas with them. My kids will probably enjoy a second round, and my mom may not know the difference.

Christine, it's okay, come back out from under the rock. I realize whining about a kitchen delay seems petty, it just felt like the last straw with everything else. I would like to tell certain clients to take a hike, but there have been layoffs and salary reductions at my company, and I can't risk my job by missing deadlines. (I probably should not be on GW, but I like to sneak a few minutes in while I take meal breaks.) If I get hit by a bus, my family gets life insurance to pay the bills, but if I lose my job or take another big pay cut, then they could be in real financial trouble.


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About clients and "who you are better off than"....

An Edward Jones guy just knocked on my door.
Knocked on my door! Cold, door-to-door calling for investment and financial planning! Ack!


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Wow, jamies. That's one brave soul! In this day and age, no less. huh. go figure.

Ok. Out from under the rock.
I get the job thing. Most of us need ours. When you said "your clients" I was secretly hoping you worked for yourself so you could tell them to just hold their horses.

You'll have a beautiful Christmas. If your DH becomes helpful rather than one of the kids, it can be very memorable. I'm glad your father is coming to visit. With them closer, you'll find a lessening of concern, but probably just a change in stress. At least you'll be able to be hands on.

Hang in there!


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Chicgeek reminded me of this Christmas pic from my childhood album. That's me, and I was not quite 2 yet. Great tree, huh?


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

cawaps, I love the photo! The expression on your face is priceless. It shows just how magical the season can be, whatever scale the tree and decorations are. Thanks for sharing a beautiful Christmas memory.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

Since it is clear that you are going to be kitchenless for a while longer, you might do some small things to make it more comfortable. For example, a temporary table - it could be a card table and folding chairs or even one of the longer folding tables that seat 8 - something that would be useful to have even after the remodel is done. Or an improvised trestle table of 2 saw horses with a piece of plywood across them. With a table cloth spread across it, an improvised table can look festive.

Ideal would be two tables so one has space for a toaster oven, hot plate and a small cutting board and the other is for eating. You can do a lot with these things.

When you say DH is making it clear how upset he is, do you mean he is upset at the situation/contractors or is he being upset at you? It would really help if he could pull together with you on this.

Some small comforts may help you both feel better and allow you to deal with the bigger challenges.


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

I agree with debrak...on not getting hung up on the date. Your kids are young and if it works to celebrate on another date then do it. I realize that its likely your kitchen will not be finished during the Christmas season but when you see your parents in January - CELEBRATE! Have the Christmas feast. Maybe leave a few decorations out.

My dh works all different times, shifts, holidays, last minute. He literally was given his work schedule yesterday for the 2 weeks starting THIS SUNDAY through the holidays! Talk about throwing any plans out the window, I actually just don't bother to try to make any. I'd love to say I've gotten used to it after 14 years and that it doesn't get under my skin but I'd be a big fat liar. Some years are better than others and I do not take it out on my dh but I do need to vent here and there.

It was very hard when the kids were young and I had this vision of what I thought Christmas morning would be like - vision not reality. Sometimes I think our expectations set us up for failure.

When the kids were younger we celebrated whenever my husband wasn't working. Santa came any day that worked for us during Christmas break and it was usually NEVER on the 25th. They are older now so they'd realize the date but then the 'gig' is up anyhow.

So I guess my point is - after all of this schedule business and the added stress it causes I have come to cherish the simple togetherness with my immediate family and do not get hung up on the days or what we couldn't do or had to miss. We fit in everything else with extended family when we can. Sometimes it is January. It's just the way it is. That way we space out the big meals and food coma's so I guess that would be a perk!

Sending you best wishes for a memorable holiday with your family and with your parents.


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Kaysd - I completely understand what you are going through. My remodel has been going on for over a year. It would be done by now if it weren't for a 7 mo period that my contractor did nothing. So this is really the 2nd Christmas that I have not bothered decorating as my house is completely torn up. Christmas is my favorite holiday so this has really been a bummer.

Today my counters are being installed but there is still so much to do and I wil not have a functioning kitchen for a while yet - at leaset not in time for me to host Christmas breakfast for my family.

So once again, we are doing it at my brother and sister in laws - although I am still going to be responsible for coordinating the meal and pulling it together.

I've given out a few food assignments, but have asked a friend who will be gone for the day if, on Saturday, I could borrow her kitchen to do my prep work. I'll then tote it home and stick it in the frig in my garage, then take it to my brothers house to cook.

It's not ideal, but it will work.

I had so been looking forward to having my family over in my remodeled condo. So what I might do instead is host a "Christmas in July" and pull out my decorations and all!

That might be something fun for you to do to make up for the lack of this year.

Regardless, cherish your family and the TIME together. As others have stated, this will likely become a treasured memory!

Merry Christmas!!!


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RE: Depressing holidays with no kitchen

No matter where or how you celebrate, as long as you have your little family with you and they are healthy, it will be a good Christmas...the day is not about what or where you eat. One of my favorite Christmas was sitting on the floor of an airport, being fogged in with my family, eating PBJ sandwiches. But my last Christmas was not so happy...I felt very alone eating in the hospital cafeteria by myself while my husband was on his way to meet his maker......so do not get so hung up on where or what you might eat. Your kids are little....they do not care...the only one that you are hurting, is yourself.


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