A True Test Of Christmas Spirit: My Family Has The Flu For The Holidays

sad christmasFor our family, Christmas Day was really the culmination of four days of holiday events. We had three states to drive through, dozens of family members to see, and over a hundred presents to hand out. Even better, we got to do the whole thing this year while puking our guts out.

Friday night at midnight, my daughter screamed from her bedroom. I ran in to find her sheets covered in vomit. We spent the next six hours holding her hair back, rubbing her neck, and coaxing water down her throat in between rounds.

As I tried to get her to rest, I worried about what engagements we would keep and how many people we were going to expose to a stomach bug. We couldn’t exactly cancel Christmas. It was hard enough to schedule a time for everyone to get together. You can’t disappoint a dozen children when they’re expecting presents. At the same time, you don’t want to get the whole family sick.

After almost two hours of sleep, I started making phone calls and discussing tactics. At this point in time, it was just my daughter who felt sick. Everyone agreed that we would just have to take our chances and do the best we could to quarantine my little sicky.

Our first family Christmas, she spent sleeping in an armchair, under strict instructions not to touch anyone but her mom. Thankfully, my little girl wasn’t in the mood to run around with her cousins. She wasn’t too excited about her presents either, but we accepted that as part of the trade off. She would have time to get excited about her new toys later.

We had one Christmas down and Brenna was on the mend. I was exhausted, but I figured we had been through the worst. Then, the flu started to spread. We were getting through our family Christmas, opening treats for the dogs and starting to rip through the triple-protected toy packaging, when the flu started to hit me. My stomach felt nauseous. My head started to hurt. We still had travelling to do and more family to see when I crawled into bed with a big plastic bowl and flat Sprite.

As my husband started to clean up all the boxes and entertain my daughter, I began to rearrange our afternoon’s activities. I factored in another six hours to be sick, based on the length of my daughter’s run. Six hours was really all I could afford to take off if we wanted to see everyone.

Finally, on Christmas Day, with my daughter and I still recuperating, we headed over to my parents’ house. It was our last family get together. We walked in with ginger ale in hand and presents in tow. We cuddled up in a corner under blankets, shivering because of our fevers but determined to enjoy ourselves.

It was a lot harder to be in the Christmas spirit this year. The carols just made my head hurt. The sweets just made my stomach reel. In general, I wasn’t fit to spend time with anyone. But it was still Christmas. I still got to watch my loved ones open gifts that I had picked out especially for them. I still got to be surrounded by my family, giving thanks for our blessings and taking comfort in one another’s presence.

It was Christmas. A pukey, feverish, possibly contagious Christmas. But if we could enjoy ourselves through this, we can get through anything the next year might throw at us.

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  • Clifford

    Shame on you for not all getting vaccinated. Not only are you potentially killing your children, you are putting others in danger also. I have no sympathy for you.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      We are ALL vaccinated here, and I’ve got two kid’s sick and a husband who has been in bed all day. Shame on you for being nasty on the holiday! This flu is vicious! I don’t think the vaccines care!

    • CMJ

      Erm – you know the flu vaccine only guards against certain strains and there are like a zillion flue strains, right?

    • katydid0605

      the flu vaccine is for the flu that is in your chest/lungs…its not for stomach flu.

    • LindsayCross

      Yea… we’ve all been vaccinated. But thanks for that.

  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    Linds, I have the same thing going on here, I have been spared thus far :( I am so sorry for us but it’s going around, everyone is sick :( merry Christmas! Love to you.

  • katydid0605

    feel your pain, we just hosted christmas whille i was feverish, hacking coughing, and exhausted. it was rough, but thank goodness the kids werent sick! hope youre all better soon

  • NotCinderell

    I’m so sorry. We had it at Thanksgiving. I’d cooked for two days, only to have my son throw up as he was washing his hands for dinner. We sent everyone home and ended Thanksgiving on the spot. My husband threw up later that night, and my daughter and I got sick later that weekend. We have some friends who drove 9 hours out of town only to have kids puking all over their car on the way, and then to give it to their cousins when they got there.
    Seriously, next time it happens, stay home. A stomach bug is not the kind of gift you want to give to others.

  • Jeni

    The world will not end if everything doesn’t go as planned. It’s FAR more selfish to attend and infect everyone else. My relatives came despite being sick as to “not disappoint” the family. Guess what, within a week we were all sick, missing work and school because of them. I feel the same about work/coworkers. If you’re sick, STAY HOME and don’t infect the rest of the world.

  • Bluebelle

    How terrible. I’m glad you guys still had a somewhat enjoyable Christmas, but next time stay home. I’m emetophobic and just knowing someone has had norovirus sends me into a tizzy, but my own worries aside, you continue “shedding” the illness for up to two weeks and anything you cooked or baked or made while infected can make others sick. Definitely not a sickness you want to expose to the elderly or babies.

    And Clifford, you can’t get vaccinated against norovirus.

  • J

    I think less people would be confused if you avoided the term flu. You most likely do not have influensa (flu) but rather gastroenteritis caused by the norovirus.

    Although I feel for your family (my own has had a nasty chest cold over Christmas which we got from a friend who insisted in a rather pushy manor that we give her a ride to a mutual friends party without warning us that she was ill until she showed up full of tissues and snot)- if you had turned up to my house with a noro virus I would have been extremely annoyed. How can shipping gifts via the post be more disappointing than giving everyone your vomiting bug?

    • J

      Ugh sorry for my iPad autocorrect typos. Uuuurgh

  • Leanne Strong

    My mom was sick on Christmas one year. I hardly even remember it, because I was so young. I was sick on Super Bowl Sunday this year (2014) with a cold. My parents had invited some friends of ours over to their house to watch the game, and I didn’t go because I was feeling so stuffed up and run down, and I didn’t want to give anybody my cold.