Going to Ohio has become synonymous with Christmas. Saturday morning David and I wake up early and pack the car for the 11 hours drive from Boston to my parents’ house. The dogs spread out in the back seat and sleep all the way while David and I drive in 3 to 4 hour shifts. Making minimal spots, we arrive typically around dinner time to celebrate David’s birthday again!
Once there, everything was going according to plan. We woke up late in the mornings and spent most of the day lounging in our pjs and catching up. In the afternoons, we treated ourselves to lunch out and splurged on desserts. In the evenings, we went to the movie theater to watch this year’s academy award winning hopefuls. Each day followed this general pattern.
Things changed however this year when my brother and sister-in-law arrived with their two littles. We were so excited to celebrate Christmas this year with the littles. We had spent too many years having an adult Christmas, that the littles would return a sense of magic and awe to what was otherwise a typical holiday season. Excitedly we picked them up from the airport and met them at the gate. We soaked them in, hugging and kissing them from head to toe! Christmas could finally begin was all I thought about as we drove from the airport and arrived home. The Christmas presents lay beneath the tree waiting to be torn into and following our planned Christmas feast we would do just that.
Within the first few moments it became clear that this Christmas would be VERY different. Avery was unfortunately ill with the norovirus. Perhaps she caught it from her cousins, the airport, or touching some contaminated surface but upon arrival she became ill. We ate a haphazard meal as we swallowed down beef tenderloin and juggled baby Smith and helping Jessie clean Avery up. We tore through our presents but it was clear that not only were the new arrivals so tired from their travels but also under the weather.
One by one, we all succumbed to the virus. One minute we would be happily playing board games, laughing, drinking wine and making merry and the next minute another one fell ill. It was an odd waiting game as the numbers of those afflicted increased and those immune decreased. By the end of the visit, no one had been spared. It was definitely not the Christmas present we had expected! Yet, on the flip side of this disaster, despite the constant trips to the bathroom, the upset bellies, and the queasiness, we enjoyed each other’s company. We used few of our packed clothes and opted for pajama day after day, we cuddled, we cared for one another, we laughed and shared the stories of our “battle wounds.” We might have planned to take Avery to the aquarium, to have gotten all of the ladies nails done, and to have given Bryan and Jessie a date night during this trip, but as the old adage goes, “You make plans and God laughs.” It was still a very Merry Christmas and truly relaxing once we had all weathered the storm. And next year we will surely not invite the norovirus again….