The 4-year-old was the first to get sick: about 15 minutes before midnight on Christmas Eve, as we were driving home from the annual get-together at my grandma’s house. She was strapped in her carseat.
To be fair, the 2-year-old had whimpered her way through the Christmas Eve church service and told me many times throughout the evening that her belly hurt. We bolstered her up with Dr Pepper and fudge and ice cream at GG’s party, though, and chose to believe that peace on earth would prevail for Christmas.
About 59 seconds after the 4-year-old got sick in her carseat on the way home, the 2-year-old followed suit. I wielded the sugar cookie tray and mostly saved the carpeting in the backseat from a second puddle of puke.
Our bedraggled bunch pulled up to the house after midnight, in single-digit weather, a light snow on the ground, and Beau and I got all three kids out of soiled clothes and into bed. The 7-year-old threw up in his bed shortly thereafter, in the wee hours of Christmas morning.
Sometime around 3 a.m., as I helped the 4-year-old through a bout of dry-heaving, my 9-months-pregnant body couldn’t take it anymore… and I myself officially had the Christmas flu.
Beau was still feeling well enough about 8 o’clock Christmas morning to help our poor kids open a couple presents each — as I dozed in and out of consciousness on the couch. Within a couple hours, though, he too was down for the count. Flu 5; Blakes 0.
We gathered our wits about us and officially cancelled our plans for Christmas Day — disappointing the niece and nephew who were anxiously waiting for us at my folks’ house — and Beau and I spent the subsequent hours taking turns napping. When you weren’t lucky enough to be napping, you were on-duty: there were baths to draw, there was carpet to clean, there was laundry to pile, and there were kids to hydrate.
I hereby submit that being sick and caring for several tiny sick people at the same time brings a whole new level of difficulty to the game. Oh, and being pregnant on top of it all? I think mothers everywhere deserve medals.
About 3 p.m. on Christmas Day the 7-year-old, Asher, declared he could not stand to watch one more movie! (He was the quickest to recover on Christmas Day, though the flu did come back and bite him a couple days later.) All he could think about on Christmas Day was how we were missing Christmas. He paced the house as the rest of sprawled on flat surfaces, repeatedly asking me and Beau when we would be ready to head to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Finally I had to tell him there was NO CHANCE of us making it; we didn’t want to be feeling so terrible at someone else’s house — and besides, we didn’t want to spread this yucky bug to anyone else. (Later we would find out that Grandpa already had the bug on Christmas Day, as did most of the PV Ranch crew.)
Exhausted, sick, highly pregnant, and scared (because I’d completely forgotten how similar having the stomach flu feels to surviving labor and delivery and I was thinking No way am I tough enough to bring another baby into the world!), I had to shed a few tears as I explained to Asher that nobody would ever wish to be sick like this, on Christmas especially, and how it was just even worse because all five of us were sick at the same time, and I knew it surely wasn’t fair, and I knew it was hard for him to understand but we would have to be big kids about it and celebrate Christmas the whole rest of the week instead of today… and, anyhow, nobody knows on exactly which day Baby Jesus was born, right?
As daylight wained over Christmas Day 2017, I suggested that Asher call Grandma, who lives just a few miles away, and ask her to bring us some crackers and noodle soup for Christmas. He proudly wore the new chinks he got for Christmas out to the front gate, into the fresh air, to meet her and carry the goods back inside.
So we Blakes shared canned Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and saltines for Christmas dinner — all but Beau, because he didn’t feel good enough to even try eating yet.
That was 5 days ago. And though we’re all still a little puny and none of us are quite back on full feed yet, no one’s puked for close to 48 hours and a lot of the laundry is done and we have delivered and opened most of the gifts.
And our niece and nephew are here today — the flu could prevent the annual cousins’ Christmas sleepover only so long. We’ve been experiencing wildly wintry weather — we got about 9 inches of snow today and it’s eleven degrees below zero as I write — which makes for extra-cozy sleepover conditions. As far as I can tell, nothing could stop this bunch of cousins from bundling up to play in the snow:
And they even talked Beau into pulling their sleds behind the 4-wheeler this below-zero afternoon:
The feedlot calves thrive in cold weather. Funny, huh?
Hope everyone else had a more traditional Christmas than we Blakes did. But despite the flu, we really do have much to be thankful for this Christmas — including the health we almost always enjoy, our cozy home, our overflowing family… and, of course, saltines and noodle soup.
© Tami Blake