Imagine you’re part of Team Christmas, but while everyone is busy being merry, you’re stuck on the bench. Welcome to my Christmas experience.
Early December after my daughter’s holiday recital, I bounced into my house like an unhinged jack-in-the-box and got as comfortable as I could. My first illness was internal and not contagious. This kind of “sick” is tricky. Having a cold is easy to talk about, but if you mention bacteria you immediately sound like a mutated alien. It’s socially awkward. It’s extremely uncomfortable, but my appearance stays the same so who can tell? No more volunteering for anything extra, had to cancel work, and stopped showing up to anything.
For me it’s noticeable, I think everyone can tell I’m a total loser right now. I’m maintaining a smile in public, but my body is saying flee! It’s not fair when you feel like your body is letting you down. Doesn’t it know it’s Christmas!? It makes past Christmas failures look exceptional. Years ago I spent hours making an apron for my brother that went a little something like this, “There’s plenty of room for all God’s creatures … right next to the mashed potatoes,” I think that’s in the Bible. It didn’t work out, so I threw it away. I went from channeling crafty Martha Stewart to making a shiv out of a candy cane jailbird Martha.
After recovering from my bout of unfortunate events, I made a comeback by wrapping gifts for a white elephant party and baking cookies from the pre-made log of cookie dough. Hey, don’t judge me. I sprinkled candy cane dust on top to make them and they were delightful! Then my daughter got a fever. So we stayed home and sadly ate cream cheese pinwheels. After a couple days she recovered and then, you guessed it, I got the flu.
The flu is ugly. This is the kind of “sick” where you don’t leave the house, even if you could. Nobody orders a master cleanse right before Christmas. But that’s exactly what happened. Every toilet was on my radar. I stayed home, because the last thing you want is to get stuck in a public restroom playing a concert that nobody signed up to hear. It’s the kind of flu that even if you think you’re having a bad day, it can always get worse. It was graphic. At one point I looked up and it was like the Ghost of Christmas Past was showing me a night from college. Except I did nothing to earn or deserve the scene that laid before me. Nobody cheered me on. No bad decisions were made. Innocent flu bug.
Afterward, it was like the clean Old West around here. I had hand sanitizer on my belt buckle and a can of Lysol under my armpit. The Lysol is Citrus Meadows so the smell is much more tolerable. I don’t know why it took so long to come up with that idea. Unless my mom purposely bought the stinky Lysol when I was a kid, which is sadistic and would confirm a few things.
I’m happy to report that as I write this article it has been a full day of being healthy. The smoke has cleared and I’m seeing things clearly. The past month my friends have kept me in the loop thanks to technology. It’s easy to support each other when you’re stuck on the couch (or in the bathroom. — we all do it, don’t pretend).
My family made sure to know they’re thinking of me as I miss event after event. They’d rally to take my kids, which was huge for me. My employer for the most impressive home decor store in Alaska was incredibly supportive. People that are truly kind just get even more kind when given the opportunity. People will surprise you with their grace.
Also, it reminded me how it feels to be on the other side and need help. Human. When you feel out of order, desperation turns into survival. Survival turns you inside out. Day by day you make a point to find your sense of humor, do the best you can, and pray harder than you have in a while. Have hope. Hope deferred makes the heart weary, but hope restored brings life. Don’t give up.
Here’s the thing: Now that I’m better, I realize this Christmas was less about cookies, parties, and holiday cheer. This year Christmas was about handling myself in a dark time, remembering other people’s kindness, and focusing on divine gifts. Did you know that Christmas celebrates the birth of generous Grace, compassionate Mercy, and a neverending Love?
You can find them when you’re laying sick in bed or out and about. They’re free, not wrapped, and last all year! Enjoy! Merry Christmas!
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.