An Unexpected Christmas…or, what could have been the worst Christmas ever, but really wasn’t

Well, I’m back. I know it’s been a while, but I assure you I have a very good explanation for my absence. As the song says, “You have your excuses, but I have my reasons…” and I promise they are good ones too, though I suppose they are also excuses. 🙂 Picture with me if you will:

Scene: Our master bath
Time: December 23rd, morning

Chris’s office very generously gave all their employees the whole week of Christmas off. He was getting ready to go out for a quick shopping trip while I started a load of laundry (I planned on having it all done by that afternoon so we would have clean clothes the rest of the week). Suddenly Chris yelled “Do we have a mop?” I rushed into the bedroom to find him standing barefoot in a puddle of water. It seemed the washing machine had backed up into the tub and caused the toilet to overflow. Again. This happens about every two to three months. We finally had them send a camera down our pipes and discovered we have a metal rod partially blocking one of the pipes directly underneath Baby Girl’s room. We have yet to explore the difficulties of getting this permanently fixed…out of sight, out of mind you know. Our temporary fix is to have the roto-rooter guy come out. I called him (we are on a first name basis at this point) but learned the schedule was full for that day. Our options were to have him come in the evening and have to pay overtime, or wait until first thing in the morning. We opted to wait. So much for my hope to finish the laundry before Christmas Eve. My poor hubby spent his first morning of vacation mopping, scrubbing, and sanitizing the bathroom floor.

Scene: Our car, driving through our town’s “fancy” neighborhoods
Time: December 23rd, evening

Between a foot of snow paralyzing our area for a week at the beginning of December and various Christmas parties and gatherings the next week we had not yet found a free evening for one of my favorite holiday activities, driving around to look at lights. We finally decided this would be the perfect evening for it, and it was. C ooohed and ahhhhed at the “pitty lights” and exclaimed in delight over the various lawn decorations (her favorite, of course, being a life-sized Mickey and Minnie caroling in one front yard). Chris and I sipped our lattes and enjoyed a laid-back, beautiful night. It was perfect…until Chris admitted reluctantly that he wasn’t feeling very well. Sure enough, after we got home he discovered he was running a temperature. He went to bed early, hoping to forestall the inevitable…

Scene: Charlotte’s room
Time: December 23rd, late at night – December 24th, early morning
The first time C woke up crying it was about one am. I had just fallen asleep (not sure why it took me so long, other than that I was subconsciously monitoring my husband’s temperature). I rushed into her room, worried she was sick since it’s been a long time since she’s woken up in the middle of the night. I checked her diaper (clean) and her temperature (normal) and rocked her back to sleep. She started crying again at three am, again just after I’d dropped off. By the third time I gave up going back to bed, worried that I was disturbing Chris’s much needed rest, and slept in the guest room bed instead (thankfully my parents weren’t coming to stay with us until the next day.) Chris came looking for me around seven, so I went back to our bed to sleep in as long as possible. Ha.

Scene: Our bedroom
Time: Christmas Eve, morning
I was rudely awakened from a very peaceful slumber by the doorbell. For a moment I was confused…had my parents arrived early? Why didn’t they just use their key? Then I remembered. The roto-rooter guy! I glanced at Chris, but I he was clearly still sleeping the slumber of the sick, so I dragged myself out of bed to greet the plumber. He kindly refrained from commenting on my rumpled pjs (sweats and a long-sleeved t-shirt, nothing scandalous thankfully) and got to work. Chris managed to stumble out of bed before the guy left to get his full report and write a check. I sent Justin on his way with grateful thanks and a box of treats, and proceeded to begin the laundry again, thankfully without further incident.

Scene: The living room
Time: Christmas Eve, night

Chris had recovered enough for us to complete our plans for the day, namely seeing part two of the Hobbit while my parents watched Charlotte, and attending one of our church’s Christmas Eve services. The only thing I didn’t manage was a nap. Thanks to my very interrupted sleep the night before I was running on fumes by the time we made it to church, cranky and irritable and hardly able to keep my eyes open, even during the rousing ending carol “Joy to the World.” Chris was feeling poorly again too so we turned in early, taking just enough time to stuff the stockings before crashing into bed.

Scene: Our house
Time: Christmas Day

It is a blessing that C is still too young to understand the implications of Christmas morning. Thanks to the excitement of the day before she slept in to almost nine. I was feeling halfway human again by the time I heard her cheerful babbles through the monitor, but Chris looked like death warmed over. I gave him some Tylenol and told him to go back to sleep. I had planned to wait until Chris was up before opening presents, but forgot about the new Goofy and Donald dolls that were sticking out of C’s stocking.  Of course she noticed them immediately, making it impossible to hold her back from emptying her entire stocking. She loved all the cheap but fun new toys (thank you Target dollar spot and Disney’s magical ability to brand everything with Minnie or a princess) and they kept her well occupied until her daddy felt well enough to join us.

He lasted through opening presents and managed to help carry out her “big” gift, a play kitchen that I bought from a friend on Facebook (I love social media!).

We had saved it for last, knowing that she would be completely distracted from playing with anything else once she saw it. Sure enough, she immediately began washing dishes and cooking meals, mostly in the microwave (not sure what that says about my cooking, ahem).

Chris went back to bed and I napped on the couch during the afternoon. We were supposed to go over to my in-laws for Christmas dinner that evening, but decided we weren’t up to it. Chris managed to get up long enough to eat part of the care package his parents brought over (they are so wonderful) and join in our annual viewing of White Christmas. By the time the movie was over I wasn’t feeling too good myself. The thermometer confirmed that I too was running a temperature over 100, and my hacking cough that I’d had since Thanksgiving and thought was finally getting better was back with a vengeance.

Scene: Our master bedroom
Time: December 26th, morning
I woke groggily to find that my condition had worsened. Chris had given my some Tylenol around four am after he’d been woken by the heat radiating off my body, but when I stumbled to the bathroom for the thermometer my fever was back up to 101.4. I called my doctor, only to be told there were no open appointments that day. Thankfully my symptoms were bad enough that they decided to work me in anyway. After listening to my symptoms the nurse suggested a flu test. I hadn’t even thought of that has a possibility, but sure enough I had type A, the most common and most severe. The doctor wrote Tamaflu prescriptions for everyone in the household except Charlotte (thank goodness I’d had enough common sense to get her the flu shot, though I’d neglected to get myself one).
Chris was up and around the next day, but it took me a few days longer to feel like I would live (if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet run, don’t walk, to your nearest pharmacy). My parents thankfully never developed symptoms, and neither did Charlotte. My energy returned very slowly…it was New Year’s Day before I felt motivated enough to take down the Christmas decorations. Poor Chris spent another day off working like a trooper, carrying boxes up and down from the attic and muscling the tree back into its box for another year. The next day I cleaned house from top to bottom, hopefully dispelling any lingering germs.
And that pretty much brings us up to the present.  It wasn’t the Christmas I had planned, but that really didn’t matter. It ended up being yet another lesson that I am not in control, and that the joy and peace of God can still fill our hearts, even during the most unpleasant of circumstances.
My parents moved back in with us last Friday after spending most of December house sitting for some friends in Tulsa. They are getting closer to deciding on an RV…hoping a trip to the Kansas City RV Show in a couple weeks will give them the final information they need.
Meanwhile I’m trying to settle back into our routine while gearing up for the start of MOPS, community group, C’s mom’s day out and play group. I’m also planning on getting back to twice weekly blog posts. Look for my next one on Wednesday! I think I’ll write about the books I’m reading…or maybe how I “un-decorated” for winter…or possibly some funny anecdotes about what life is like with a toddler…I guess you’ll just have to be surprised. 🙂
How was your Christmas? Did it live up to your every wish, or was it, like ours, a bit different from what you expected?

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