Sunday, December 28, 2008

Look, I won't trash your traditions if you don't trash mine.

Every family has its holiday traditions.

Every family.

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.


The Hurst Family said...

You have to write a book. I laughed until I cried with that last post. I love reading your stuff. Of course our family wasn't worshiping the porcelin bowl so it's easier to find humor in your well crafted words. Love you. RaeAnn

Becky said...

Yes, but when all is said and done, this is certainly a tradition I'd like to avoid next time. Please?!!

Mama M said...

For me, the defining moment of the past week was when you ran up the stairs from the basement with your hand over your mouth. You had been attempting to rest in the basement bedroom where you were assigned for the holidays, but the basement bathroom was occupied with your brother, who was puking. You ran past the hall bathroom, which was occupied by your brother-in-law, who was puking, and then, emitting a half strangled moan of desperation, you ran into the master bathroom, which was miraculously not occupied at that moment, and then occupied it yourself, puking.

So happy we have three working toilets in this house. Nine people, eight of us puking. I suppose there was always the kitchen sink, or a handy mixing bowl. Desperate times, desperate solutions.

Ah, happy, happy, Christmas memories. I actually think this one tops President Eyring's aluminum foil projectiles hitting the designated Samuel the Lamanite upon the city wall.

Is there any family anywhere that has such a graphically unique Christmas tradition!?! Let us embrace it! Let us celebrate it! Someone find me a little miniature toilet Christmas ornament, and I will hand it on the family tree each year in the place of greatest honor!

Palomita said...

I'm so, so, so sorry. We won't come next Christmas, so hopefully we won't be the harbingers of death again.

And, we miss you...

It was a bummer.

Joanna said...

Happy to report that Hyrum, Eli, and the mammary-produced sustenance are all doing well. And Jake and I also.

Becky said...

Oh, Mary! It was even worth all of us getting sick to see you and your family again. I dare even say I'd do it again to have you close by again. And, of course, you didn't do it on purpose! (Did you??) :) We all survived, don't feel guilt! We love you!

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Bleh. Glad you're all feeling better. And I guess familial gastronomical distress is better than a tradition of familial hostility or, say, breaking your arm while sledding, which is what my mom decided to do last week. Ah the memories.

Lydia said...

Your detail has broght images that I just didn't expect today. You are a good writer.

Anonymous said...

Beth, you are so very funny. I always knew you were a great writer and had a way with words! Down here in Arizona we haven't been puking in the toilet, but we coincidentally enough had a similar tradition that is still hanging on a bit with my husband's family of bad colds and coughs and some unpleasant stomach cramps that have resulted in coming out the other end. But you're definitely right, it's better to have our family, Josh's parents, and his sister's family not in a family feud and sick instead, then the other way around. Have a very Happy New Year! and congratulations to Debbie. I didn't know she just got married. Wow! So what are Peter and Joseph up to? I really hope you feel better now. I'm so sorry, it doesn't sound like you were doing well at all for a while. I love ya'! Kellie Staheli Robison

Christian said...

There's nothing like gastroenteritis to bring the whole family together. In the bathroom. Puking.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas otherwise, and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

Pinto said...

hee hoo ha ha hoo.

ANd HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Whoa, one more semester, whoa)

Adrienne said...

Well then.

reynoldsrap said...

Weird famiy traditions for us? I guess my family, with it's hood ornament christmas tree decoration (from when my dad ran himself over with the car then it crashed into a tree) isn't really all that crazy. oh, yeah and the ghetto gold santa from detroit area dollar store. (this all really doesn't make sense, but I'm sleep deprived.)