But there was a silver lining
It began with the arrival of our youngest daughter, Meagan and her energetic Black Lab cross, Pika. Just before they arrived we discovered our Bernedoodle, Livy, had two abscessed teeth and needed close to $2000. worth of dental surgery followed by antibiotics and pain killers. She was not so energetic, which seemed to puzzle Pika, who whined at her. A lot. Also, just before they arrived, I started feeling a strange rumbling in my tummy. Someone had given me an unexpected Christmas present – the stomach flu.
So as my eldest daughter, Kate, arrived with her husband and one-year-old Great Dane, Arturo, I retreated to the bedroom. From there I heard Kate ask her dad for blankets. Was she so cold? I wondered, hoping she wasn’t coming down with a bug too. No, the blankets weren’t for her, but for Arturo. He was afraid of our hardwood floors so blankets were needed so he could join the rest of the tribe. I heard laughter as they coaxed him until he gingerly put only one paw on the bare floor.
By the time our youngest, Laura, arrived, I was spending more time in the bathroom than the bedroom but in between, got to enjoy the squeals of our grandson as Arturo snuffled his neck, then leaped back as the little one reacted. Our granddaughter thought that was hilarious and of course squealed with delight when she saw the many presents under the tree, most of which had her name on them. At only three years old she already recognizes and can write her own name. No flies on that one!
Kate, ever the caregiver, popped into the bedroom now and then to bring me water, an antacid, and ginger ale. I dosed off and on, listening to the girls chatting as they prepared the breakfast quiche and set the table. I sensed the calm as I heard my husband’s voice pray the blessing over all.
Auntie Meg entertained Thea and Spencer-Mark with puzzles and tent-making in the basement while my two sons-in-law chatted about ways to relieve stress. (They both work in the health care profession). I prayed for them before dozing off again, until my husband poked his head in to ask if I wanted to put on a mask and join the family for the traditional unloading of the Christmas stockings, which had, as usual, overflowed into gift bags around the tree. I made a feeble attempt but then thought it wise to save them all the unpleasant memory of me upchucking on the living room floor, or more precisely, on one of the blankets covering it. I slipped away back into the bedroom.
I woke at one point to the smell of gingerbread cookies baking and smiled as I thought of the look that would be on my granddaughter’s face while she helped decorate them.
At some point the turkey was prepared, with all the trimmings, by my three capable girls and that calm moment of prayer helped me dose off again. I woke a few times to hear laughter and the pitter-patter of those little feet joined by the scrabble of the dog’s nails on the floor. All except Arturo’s, I assumed.
Eventually the day came to a close. I felt more than a little sorry for myself as I heard the commotion of gathering kids, dogs and sundries, followed by the good-byes and ‘I love you’s’ and the thump of the doors closing.
The next morning I felt well enough to emerge, slowly, to sip a cup of tea, slowly, and was surprised to see all the stockings and gift bags still full under the tree. “They all wanted to wait for you.” My DH explained they all planned to return later that morning. But by the time they did, I was banished again to the bedroom. Kate and her hubby decided to head out on their two hour drive, hearing of bad weather on the way, and Laura and family decided to stay put in the city since the little guy seemed a bit out of sorts and they wondered if he was coming down with the bug. Turned out they were right, so we promised to bring the presents to them later in the week, when everyone was feeling better.
Meg stayed for a couple more days, during which she continued to do most of the cooking and helped her dad replace a problematic kitchen faucet. Then it was her turn to say good-bye with air-hugs for me and a big real one for her dad.
The tea and toast stayed down that morning, so I decided to risk a turkey sandwich on one of my son-in-law’s wonderful homemade buns. It tasted great, though I was still a bit sad that I’d missed the real meal.
“There’s lots of left-overs,” my DH said, obviously reading my mind. I managed a smile and a short, though heart-felt prayer of thanks for him and the rest of my ‘tribe,’ including the four-legged variety.
And perhaps it was the Lord who pointed out a silver lining as I went to bed that night. This is the only Christmas in memory when I did not gain a few unwanted pounds.
Blessings to you all in 2023! May it be full of precious moments with your ‘tribe.’