While my younger brother was at our parents' house on Christmas Eve, he croaked out something to me along the lines of "What?! You're not sick at Christmas?!" It really has been tradition for my younger brother and I to catch what we call The Christmas Cold. (And that tradition seems to have caught on with Mike, as well. He's been under the weather for a few weeks now, as he has been every Christmas and/or New Year's Day the past few years.) My younger brother was sick over Christmas last week, my dad was horribly ill, my niece had spent Christmas Eve morning at the doctor's office being diagnosed with an ear infection, and everyone else but me and my mom was either sick or recovering from having been sick. I left my parents' house Sunday morning amazed at my new!-and!-improved! immune system, took a nap back here at the apartment late that afternoon, and woke up that evening with a sore throat and a stuffed-up head. By the time I got home from work Tuesday morning, I had almost no voice with which to wish Mike a good day as he left for work. The tradition lives!
Intentionally napping, unintentionally falling asleep while watching Christmas movies, discussing which cold or flu medicines are working or not working for ourselves and for each other, stocking up on oranges and boxes of Kleenex, making tea, calling and emailing one another to check in and ask "Still sick?": These things, I've realized this week, have all become just as much a part of Christmas to me as the cookie-baking or gift-wrapping. And I'm not complaining when I say that. Although I'd rather be feeling better, there is something oddly comforting in knowing we are all in this together at the end of every year.
Some of my favorite memories from this Christmas are of we Christmas Cold-ers celebrating in our own low-key ways. While I ate a bowl of chicken Ramen noodle soup Saturday night, Dad and I played cards. He'd looked wiped-out all day, and as soon as he played his last card to win the game, he said he was going to bed. Mike and I shared a belated Christmas together here Tuesday evening, and since neither of us felt up to eating at the table "like adults," we ended up eating our lasagna dinner on wooden trays in bed, with the box of Kleenex nearby and the "nighttime medicine" as dessert. Supper was eaten side-by-side in bed again tonight, as I am feeling worse today and not better. But cherry pie and vanilla ice cream tasted good for dessert, and I beat Mike at Scrabble, so things really aren't so bad. Tomorrow will likely be much of the same. And--let's just say it now, Younger Brother!--next Christmas will be, as well.