Happiness isn’t all that’s contagious
We made it through the holiday gauntlet. It was touch-and-go for a bit, I’ll admit. On Christmas Eve, we’d driven to see a lights display near my husband’s job — something Spencer had been talking about doing with the kids for weeks. We were expected at my grandparents’ house for their traditional dinner, but made sure to leave with enough time to check out the lights first.
We had just passed by the illuminated train when we heard a telltale gag from the back seat. No.
Suffice it to say our “new van” has been completely broken in at this point. The stomach bug that nipped both my son and me last week had finally come for poor Hadley, who was wearing a brand-new dress and coat at the time of . . . the incident.
We glanced at the festive scene we’d come to see before turning around and heading back home, where laundry was started and a bath was immediately run.
Spence stayed back with our girl while Oliver and I trekked to my grandparents’ house, where it finally felt like the holidays. Even in my stressed-out malaise, I could recognize the blessing of having the family together — missing a few members, though we were — and celebrating in the way I remember from my own childhood. Ollie seemed to really connect what we were doing and why this season, and I wanted him to feel the warmth of walking into his great-grandparents’ happy house at Christmas.
The back-to-back illnesses have made this a challenging month, and I’ll admit I wasn’t in the best headspace by the time Oliver and I arrived for dinner. I’d been holding myself together (. . . for the most part), but Hadley getting sick sent me into a serious funk. My anxiety flares spectacularly when the kids fall ill.
But we pressed on. The Christmas miracle I asked for arrived in the form of an uninterrupted night’s sleep, and by Tuesday morning our girl was back to her smiley self. She spotted Santa’s gift — the elusive food truck toy — before Ollie did, and watching their little faces light up did make the stress of the last few weeks worth it.
We had a simple morning at home, connecting with my mother- and father-in-law from New York so we could open presents “together” through FaceTime. I thought of 2016, when we were out of town and talking to my sister for their gender reveal on Christmas Day. Learning Katie was pregnant with a baby girl — my impish niece, Autumn — was such a delightful moment.
Now our daughters, born exactly eight weeks apart, are best buddies who spent Christmas Day at my parents’ house chasing each other and pretending to be cats (or dogs? Hard to say) with Oliver buzz- ing at their heels. Autumn gets so excited when she sees us that she nearly falls over waving, and Hadley routinely walks around saying, “Baby Autumn, where are you?” when her cousin is not, in fact, anywhere close to being within earshot.
As the kids get bigger, watching their dynamic is easily my favorite part of every holiday. This Christmas did not disappoint. Though I could have napped on a porcupine by nightfall, the happy buzz provided by the kids in our family was still contagious.
And so is that stomach virus. It was back to the couch by Wednesday.
Please send Lysol.