Hap­pi­ness isn’t all that’s con­ta­gious

The Enterprise - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

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.

No.

Se­ri­ously?

C’mon. 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.

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