Sunday, December 18, 2011

Flu Christmas

A little essay of great sympathy going out to all the parents of young children at holiday time. Originally posted December 2010 on my personal (and currently-on-hiatus) personal blog, A Perfect Pot Roast.

As a brand new mother of a brand new child, you just can't wait for the holidays.  Oh, the magic!  But honey, what you really need for Christmas is a washing machine and a heckuva lot of paper towels and handi-wipes. Because I can almost guarantee that when you are the parent of small children, someone is gonna throw up.

I can't remember the sequence of those flu/illness ridden early Christmases. Out of some kind of post-traumatic merciful amnesia, they are all a blur. One Christmas my daughter was fever-ridden and we cancelled a trip over the river and through the woods to Grandma and Grandpa's house. She didn't feel like opening her presents, much less playing with them. The pictures from that year are in a folder called "Christmas 2003 - The Flu". One year my daughter and I were both so sick the week leading up to Christmas that as of Christmas Eve we still didn't have a tree. Another year child number one was sick before Christmas, but got better just in time, so we made it to Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner - whereupon I promptly threw up. That might also be the same year my second child threw up on me in a coffee shop on New Year's Eve (sorry about that one, Starbucks.)

Those holidays "from hell" are also, however, chock full of moments of quiet insight, triumph and overcoming. Your child might not be up for opening all her gifts, but you find out it's okay to open just one or two. You may not have gotten every little last preparation done, but Christmas will come with or without them. One of my very favorite Christmas memories is my husband heading out in the snow on that tree-less Christmas Eve, and, just like Santa Claus, bringing back a tree and take-out to uplift his sad, sick and weary family.

In the hype and idealization of the season, it is easy to find yourself striving for Norman Rockwell picturesque or Martha Stewart-style Christmas perfection. But the real gift of Flu Christmas is in finding that even in the face of adverse (and occasionally nauseating) conditions, there can still be peace and joy.

Just be sure to stock up on those handi-wipes.


  1. I had a Flu Christmas once; I drank a lot of champagne. I think Martha would have approved. :)

  2. LOL, - love it! Flu Christmas with style - she absolutely would have!

  3. Nice essay. Don't think I've experienced a Flu style Christmas before. My kids can be sick the day before, but come Christmas day, they are happy campers. :-)

  4. That's amazing & very wonderful! Happy Holidays, Lena! :D

  5. Many words of wisdom here! It's always the way that the best laid plans get derailed and also that there's much enjoyment in imperfection.

    Hope you have a lovely Christmas this year.


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