I'm thankful things are better now and I think - for us - the following story is a perfect ending to 2013:
Once upon an early winter's morning, my husband Paul and I awoke to a blanket of newly fallen snow. We were excited and I said, "Wouldn't it be great to take some photos for our next Christmas card?"
We bundled up and marched onto our elevated deck overlooking a white winter wonderland beneath us. After a few snapshots of the woods and some not-so-good "selfies," we were cold and decided to head indoors.
As Paul turned the knob, we were shocked to discover it wouldn't budge. Frantically, he began twisting and turning the handle. Nothing happened.
"You locked us out," Paul said, accusingly, to which I responded - ahem, sweetly - that he had followed me outside.
Forming fistfuls of snow in his bare hands, Paul aimed snowball after snowball at both our neighbors' back doors. When he missed, he muttered how there had been a time when he would always have hit his target. Still, no response.
Finally, signs of life appeared when Sara opened her door, looking baffled about why Paul was bombarding her house. We explained, then asked her to call some neighbors who might have our key. Several phone calls later, no luck.
Around the same time, Scott - hearing smacking snowballs - trekked outside to discover our dilemma and offered a ladder. But I had visions far from sugar plums as I imagined either Paul or me breaking a leg descending slippery steps. Besides, we would still have been barred from our house because the front door was also locked.
After much pondering, we decided a locksmith was the answer. Sara called one who arrived a half-hour later, having to bust the new solid brass lock on our front door to enter the house and then fix the other one.
The diagnosis was a deteriorated lock, costing a total of $206, including front and back doors.
The good news is we never got frostbite, despite two hours outside; the bad news, we never used those snapshots for our Christmas cards.