Every family has its holiday traditions.
And I know that in some families holiday traditions consist of who is able to belch the loudest during the commercial breaks of the Rose Bowl. Still others celebrate holidays by dredging up all the old family dirty laundry that's been comfortably buried in piles of other dirty laundry for years and years and is now crawling with mildew (yes, mildew would crawl in this situation) and possibly young families of mice.
Others carol, tell tales of the histories of their people, light candles, swap embarrassing and heart-warming stories about the childhood exploits of blushing siblings, take road trips, watch movies, put together puzzles, do enormous amounts of baking, visit neighbors and elderly relatives and soup kitchens and heck, maybe even animal shelters.
My family does a lot of that too.
But our most persistent holiday tradition?
We get sick. Very, very sick.
And this year we played out our ol' familiar tradition in style.
The sickness can come from any direction, really, and it doesn't have to be any kind of sickness in particular, just something that knocks the majority of us down for at least a day or two, just enough to significantly reduce the amount of quality family time we're able to spend together during the holiday season (that is, if you don't count competing over who gets the highest recorded fever as 'quality family time').
This year, my older sister and her family got sick first. They all started experiencing some significant abdominal distress a couple of days after my youngest sister's wedding (the last of the girls to marry--other than me--hah!) but thought it had moved through and on by the time they came to my parents' house on Christmas Eve.
So they came, and we played and laughed and watched movies and ate cake and caroled around the piano and told embarrassing (and sometimes heart-warming) stories about each other. And it was great. We even thought we had escaped a general family sickness, since my older sister's family appeared unlikely to pass it on, and although my mom had been quite sick with a flu-like cold during my sister's wedding, (extremely unfortunate, but she fought through it like a trooper), the cold didn't appear to be spreading.
This is why my onset of nausea after eating Christmas dinner was somewhat distressing. But even more distressing was vomiting bits of turkey and mashed potatoes out of my nose a few hours later. And hearing everyone else vomit their assorted semi-digested eatings later that evening, in the middle of the night, and into the morning and afternoon of the day after Christmas, including my two-and-a-half-year and six-month-old nephews. (In fact, probably the worst part was hearing my six-month-old nephew crying because he was hungry, but couldn't eat because A: if he did eat, he was likely to throw up and B: my sister hadn't eaten anything for about 18 hours, and thus didn't have any mammary-produced sustenance with which to feed him.)
We're all feeling pretty okay now. A cleansing of the entire system (the entire system, I assure you) and plenty of ginger ale, juice popsicles and an assortment of bananas and toast has brought most of us back to about 90% of normal. And my sister and brother-in-law (parents of the two nephews) who had intended to stay with us only a few days have now spent many more days with us, due to being all sick and unable to get up and stuff, so that's been a boon of sorts.
And you know, I've been thinking. In all honesty, I'd take the 'puking and/or feverish colds every holiday season' over 'family fights and not speaking to each other every holiday season' any day.
So, I guess if we have to pick one terrible family tradition, this one isn't the worst. Maybe, when it comes to holidays, something that 'isn't the worst' might be pretty good after all.
Merry Christmas, everyone. And a happy, HEALTHY, new year.