First of all, let me say that it was nobody’s fault. Least of all mine, because I had no way of knowing my baby daughter was going to be the one who ruined Christmas.
Like most years, my husband’s Persian family was getting together for our big “family and friends” Christmas party. We always looked forward to this festive gathering. EVERYTHING was over the top, from the incredible Persian food to the sparkling clothes and jewelry. My little girls were so excited to wear their special Christmas dresses and shiny new shoes.
The couple who was hosting the party had a beautiful curved staircase that offered an irresistible photo op. We lined up all the cousins in their holiday outfits, from youngest to oldest on the staircase. The youngest one, my Janie at 18 months old, was too short to be seen. So she was gleefully passed along to the other end of the line. Her oldest cousin got to hold her for the photograph. This sweet little game would come back to haunt us . . .
We drove home late that night, the kids sleepy yet happy in the back seat. Christmas would be in the morning!
I tucked Janie into bed with us because it was already so late. It seemed I had just drifted off to sleep when I felt her sit up – and heard the unmistakable sound of her getting sick, right onto the middle of our comforter. She was so sick; it seemed there could be nothing left in her stomach. I gathered up the top sheet and comforter and put the whole stinky bundle out on the back porch. I would deal with it tomorrow!
I grabbed a fresh sheet and some blankets, got us all clean and tucked in again, and we closed our eyes. An hour later, I was jolted awake with the dreadful feeling that I was going to be sick – and didn’t even have time to get out of bed before it happened. When it was over, I added another bundle on the back porch. An hour later both my older daughter and my husband got sick. By now we were running out of clean sheets and blankets.
When that weary Christmas morning dawned, there was no mad dash for the presents under the tree. We dragged ourselves to the living room and tucked into the couch with some lap blankets. Christmas breakfast was unthinkable, but we could just manage to lay our heads down and watch a holiday movie on TV.
Clearly, my daughter had been contagious with this stomach virus the night before, and we had picked it up.
Then we started getting the phone calls. The oldest cousin and his siblings were all sick. As soon as we hung up, the phone rang again. This time it was the second aunt, reporting that her two girls had gotten sick. We commiserated with each other via phone, but there was nothing anyone could do besides let the virus run its course.
Our special Christmas dinner went uneaten. I didn’t even have the energy to stand up and open the refrigerator door, much less endure all those foodie smells while I cooked. No one else wanted to eat anything anyway. Our stomachs were all hurting, including our muscles from hurling all night.
Two of our unaffected uncles decided to play Santa for us. They drove on icy roads from Edmond to Moore, delivering and gathering presents, and then delivering again. Too bad one of the uncles (the one with no kids) had to pop into the restroom before they headed back to Edmond. Later that night, we got the call that he was sick too . . .
We were sick for two days but were feeling better by the 27th, so we still had plenty of time to do stuff together as a family – as a nuclear family that is. Somehow the extended family had lost their enthusiasm for getting together. Each family stuck to their own turf until New Year’s Eve, when we no longer felt nauseous just thinking about the last time we got together.
We still laugh about this Christmas memory, and say, “Do you remember when we were all sick that one Christmas?” Fifteen years later, and it is so much funnier and less painful than when it actually happened. It definitely made for a Christmas we will never forget (and that we hope is never repeated!). Just like for the Who’s of Whoville, Christmas still came, and its message was still just as profound. The only difference was that we received the message while lying down.
So when you are buying ingredients for your special holiday dinner, grab a few cans of chicken noodle soup too. And some disinfectant spray. Maybe some Gatorade. You just might need them.