The theme of vomiting on holidays continued for us on Christmas Day, with poor Miss D waking us at 4:30am to tell us she had been sick everywhere in the bathroom. One expects to be woken early on Christmas morning, but not quite this early, and not quite for this reason.
It was so bad that neither Lis nor I could stomach the smell. Poor Miss D, insisting she didn’t feel sick, but had just eaten too much the night before, cleaned up her own mess, with Lis and I both attempting not to be sick ourselves from the next room.
Usually I can manage this stuff. Possessing a cast iron constitution in these matters generally, this time, I had nothing. Except a gag reflex working overtime. After recent events, I had obviously reached my saturation point with vomit.
We all tried to think positively, that the night before’s festivities had just taken their toll and that Miss D would perk up now that she had relieved her stomach of its overburdened state.
Alas, an hour or two later, after sipping a bottle of water, she was sick again.
In fact, she was so sick that she remained in bed for the entire day. Not simply to avoid sharing her germs, although that definitely was a real concern, but because she just felt so dreadfully, dreadfully sick. She was too ill to even watch, from a safe distance, all the excitement and chaos of the present opening. The one day of the year that she looks forward to like no other, and she had to sit on the sidelines.
She opened her presents when she felt up to it, in her room by herself. My poor little love smiled when I went in to check on her, mumbled a ‘thank you’, and drifted off to sleep.
Meanwhile the rest of us knew what this meant. Not only were we all in dire danger of contracting the gastro virus ourselves (again for some of us), it meant we were officially banished from all extended family plans for the day. My mother was hosting our traditional family Christmas lunch, with all the cousins and relatives. We have an unwritten rule in our family regarding gastro – no one is welcome if there is vomiting or diarrhoea in the house.
Colds and sniffles are one thing, gastro is another. It’s an epic NO.
As I broke this news to the kids, the smile disappeared immediately from Master Z’s face. He knew too well what this meant – no Christmas inch-thick steak cooked to perfection by his uncle. No Crunchy Asian salad made by his aunts, no famous Potato and Egg salad made lovingly by his grandmother, no magnificent Curry Puffs and Spring Rolls made by our wonderful in-laws from Laos. These signature dishes, whilst non-traditional Christmas fare, are part of our traditional family feast, and he for one was stoic in the face of missing out on these.
A very distant second was a McDonald’s Christmas meal deal with all the trimmings.
The little boys couldn’t believe their luck – Maccas for Christmas Lunch – it was literally the stuff little boy dreams are made of. At least we had made their day somewhat brighter. But there was no way we were cooking and we had little to work with anyway, being that we were rich in salad gear but nothing else.
As a screaming extrovert and a self confessed massive sufferer of FOMO (fear of missing out) at the best of times, I was pretty gutted too to be missing out on the family Christmas. So was Lisa. It was our year to have all five kids with us for Christmas – we only have them altogether every second year – and it just felt so unfair and such bad timing that we had to miss out. Rob and Judy, Lisa’s parents, had joined us for the present opening, bravely risking potential infection. The original tradition was to head over to Mum’s place just before lunch to join everyone else for an afternoon of feasting and frivolity by the pool. Gastro ruined it all.
The funny thing is, as I sat outside at the table with all the McDonald’s packaging strewn about the place, and as Miss D slept inside as we waited for the Home Doctor to come and hopefully alleviate her vomiting, something occurred to me. Even with my poor daughter sick as a dog, crap plastic food on the menu, and no extended family members to be found, it still wasn’t anywhere near the worst Christmas I had ever had. Nowhere near. It actually turned out to be quite a good one (though obviously I would always prefer poor Miss D not to be sick).
Do you know what makes for a horrible Christmas as a parent?
Not seeing your children.
Not waking up to know they are with you, and only too eager to open their presents and squeal with delight.
Not being able to squeeze, kiss and cuddle them.
Waking up on your own, knowing they are elsewhere and will be for the entire day, pretty much kicks the shit out of any Christmas Day, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
Because the most important people in the world aren’t there with you to share it.
I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
So our Christmas this year wasn’t ideal, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near the worst.
And in the afternoon, when poor Miss D had been given a wafer to help ease her vomiting, she was able to share a little of it with us.
Regardless of my perspective, however, I don’t know that she’s going to rate it as anything other than her worst Christmas ever.
At the ripe old age of twelve, that seems more than fair to me.