Late this afternoon the kids went downstairs in search of curling ribbon to use on gifts. They came back up and reported water on the floor. Under the hot water heater.
"Maybe it's condensation," I said. Not that it was a very likely explanation, but it was better than immediately beginning the weeping/wailing/gnashing of teeth.
And, indeed, when I got downstairs, laid on the floor with a flashlight, and pondered the bottom of the water heater, it was pretty apparent that we've got a heap of trouble.
So I called Rick, who is currently in Mexico. Then called the water heater manufacturer (it's still under warranty) to find out about suggested plumbers. And started calling plumbers.
The second guy a called was an absolute gem. He's totally booked up for the week, but took the time to explain to me exactly how the warranty works and what plumbing supply companies carried that particular brand of heater so that when I talk to other plumbers I have more options.
Unfortunately, all the other plumbers were already gone for the day. So I turned off the water into the tank, turned off the gas (just in case), discussed with Rick how to drain the tank, decided I didn't care to fiddle with that tonight, took the kids to dance class, went Christmas shopping, came home, worked on the Super Surprise Sewing Project, called Aunt Linda and told her that maybe it would be just as well if they didn't come over for supper Friday since our water situation was hit-or-miss, etc. etc.
I"m pretty sure there was some other stuff I meant to do tonight towards getting ready for Christmas. But this is really distracting, to tell you the truth, so my mind is wandering all over the place.