The Wednesday before Christmas, I finished wrapping the presents, baking the cookies, and got the house cleaned for the holidays. I welcomed my mother-in-law into our home, cooked a nice dinner, put the children to bed. Around 10 p.m. my stomach started feeling a little funky. Around 1 a.m. I threw up in the downstairs bathroom.
Yes, that's right, boys and girls, after all that talk about leaving myself time to spiritually prepare for Christmas, the minute I was ready to walk through the Great Mystical Christmas Doorway, I got sick. Two days in bed-terrible nausea-deeply exhausted-nothing jolly about it- sick.
Ain't life grand?
The problem with nausea is that it zaps you of strength and hope. You can't look forward to the future--to eating Christmas dinner, for instance, or playing with your Christmas presents--because your thoughts can't escape the nausea you feel as you think them.
So here's what I did: I slept a lot. I let my mother-in-law run the show (thank goodness she was here!). I thought about the people with cancer going through chemo over at the hospital a few miles from my home and prayed that they would feel some relief during Christmas, if only for a few moments. I thought about my friend Kathryn, who is in her fourth month of pregnancy and still experiencing all-day morning sickness. There's nothing I can do to relieve her symptoms, but at least I could for a time feel the deepest empathy. I called her up and said, "Doesn't feeling nauseated all the time suck?" We talked about how tired it makes you, how depressed.
When you've got a stomach bug at Christmas, it's hard to feel merry. But Christmas stripped bare of all its ho-ho-ho's isn't all bad. It reminds you that all sorts of folks feel like hell all the time, and that's it particularly awful to feel like hell at Christmas. There's not much you can do but say "I feel your pain" and actually mean it, but I think maybe that helps a little. Being sick is so isolating when everyone around you is healthy.
I'm still sick as I write this--apparently this bug lasts between two and three weeks--though I feel much better and not nauseated, just sort of tired all the time. I'm not alone--a bunch of people around here have the same thing--which makes it better, and once I learned that the bug would hang around for a while, I just decided to ignore it and get on with things. So it's not so bad.
Christmas day was lovely. Santa Claus came (despite Will's Christmas Eve fears that the big man would be a no show due to Will's evil ways), the roast beef turned out nicely (I used the recipe from the January Cook's Illustrated, and it worked perfectly), and everyone seemed happy with their new stuff. Wednesday and Thursday we hung out in our pjs and played board games and read. I stayed in my pajamas until 2 p.m. on Thursday, a personal best.
Slowly we're emerging from the Christmas dream state. My husband went to work today. I've been surreptitiously carting toys up to the boys' room and doing loads of laundry. Jack is already anticipating Christmas next year.
Tomorrow we'll take down the tree and put away the decorations. I'm ready. But I think in spite of being sick, I'll look back on this Christmas fondly. We visited with friends, went to a Boxing Day party, and enjoyed seeing Jack play a Wise Man in the Christmas pageant. I managed not to feel too sorry for myself, and I got all of the books I asked for. Really, it was lovely.
Dirt, milk, communion.
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