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Another holiday season has come and gone.
The last few years our holidays have been dampened by health issues, so this year I decided to go all out with decorating. With kids and grandkids coming, I got into the spirit and decorated and baked and planned and listened to the music in joyful anticipation of everyone’s arrival.
A few days before everyone came, one of my friends, who shall remain anonymous (but her name is Mary and she owns a printing company), told me my living room looked like someone had vomited Christmas into it; an odd choice of words, I thought, for a compliment.
Or was it?
Pretty sketchy, but I decided to take it as a positive statement, just a recognition that I had gone at it enthusiastically. Little did I know that her statement would prove to be prophetic as well.
When my 4-year-old grandson arrived at my door with a solemn expression on his face, clutching a mixing bowl, and announced “Ya-Ya I frew up,” I had my first inkling that this might not be the idyllic holiday I had imagined. Turns out, I was right. Mike and I managed to stay above the fray with only minor symptoms, but everyone else succumbed, then recovered, then relapsed, each on a different schedule.
You know, it isn’t easy to plan holiday meals around the needs and preferences of meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans all together, but it is even harder when one group is sick and can’t eat or stand the sight of food, and the rest of the group is preoccupied by the idea that they might get sick next. Looking back, we could have saved a lot of money and time by just serving saltine crackers and Sprite. Everyone can eat that, and it’s practically all that was eaten.
It was interesting to note that many people hate to admit they have the flu — they prefer to tell you it was, “just something I ate. ” This group was no different. The vegans said they must have gotten some “dairy” somewhere, looking suspiciously around, and the vegetarians blamed some sneaky meat product in something, like chicken broth, or maybe “processed food” (oh no!) and also eyed me with doubt. Of the three meat eaters, the two oldest and probably least healthy were OK and the third was sick as a dog. By that time, everyone had to admit it was the flu, though relapses were still looked on with suspicion until most everyone had one. Once the Internet described the flu and its symptoms in Colorado, my kitchen and I were finally vindicated.
The thing is, even with the stomach flu as an uninvited guest at our Christmas celebration, there was still some magic. We all had a really good time. It was wonderful to be able to kick back and spend time together, to laugh and watch movies and play in the snow. Just being together felt good. Christmas means different things to different people, but maybe one of the best things it does for us is to give us a few days to slow down our hectic schedules and relax and be together with our families and friends. It seems like the older I get, the more important I realize that is. I don’t know if that is because I am acutely aware of my own mortality these days — that probably is a factor — but I just know any time I get to spend with family and friends, old and new, is special.
It even felt good to nurse them through their encounters with our uninvited guest. I am just not sure when I will get all the laundry put away, though, and I wonder who will want to come back next year.