My birthday is a mere three days before Christmas. Anyone who has a birthday immediately before or after Christmas can tell you that it’s not ideal. People forget about you. People think combining salutations and gifts for birthdays and holidays is what one should do. But mostly it just means that it’s all a blur.
The holidays are stressful. Parties, presents, and traffic galore. You can’t go to a store without having at least one encounter with a rude person. At some point some man dressed as Santa will be ringing a large bell in your face insisting the money he’s demanding from you is going to a good cause. The grocery store will definitely be out of that one thing you need, and you’ll be lucky to find a place to park at the mall.
But at the end of every day, as I play my Christmas music, make peppermint bark, and sit by the tree, I am thrilled for this time.
And this time? This time was perfect.
This time I wasn’t going to bed and kicking people out of our house early, or waking up before the sun breaks over the horizon to get to work. I was just home. With my family.
And I was sick. I had a fever. Felt awful. Cold symptoms that have turned into a chest cold. Alex woke up with a fever on Monday (my birthday!) and got to experience his first sick day home with me. So it wasn’t perfect in the ways you would expect, but it was perfect because I saw it all. I got to experience it, even as I was chugging tea and slamming Advil.
What Christmas means to me? Family. I can deal with the fever (and not having to use paid time off). I can deal with rude people pushing me at the mall to get the purse I wasn’t even trying to grab. I can deal with the parties and traffic. I can deal with the blur that is my birthday, missed again his year because I was sick and miserable and was not going to waste the amazing dinner and night out Zach had planned on my sick self. I can deal with feeling stressed because this is the most wonderful time of the year.
We had our traditional pierogi dinner on Christmas Eve, passed down from Zach’s father. We shared pictures of our 75 pierogi with the other part of our family in New England that makes the same meal (and beat us by making well over 100). We had wine, I kept my distance from everyone because no one wants my sickness as a present, and we laughed. We ate cheese from a family member’s cheese store in Wisconsin, and FaceTimed with other family in sunny and warm Florida. We drank mimosas, ate lots of chocolate, and laughed some more. We sent text messages to other distant relatives, opened presents, and even played outside for a little while thanks to the unseasonably warm weather. We listened to music, played with Alex’s new toys, and laughed even more.
Alex had a wonderful Christmas. Zach and I had a wonderful Christmas. (I didn’t have to work!) I got to spend every minute with my family, something I haven’t been able to do since Alex was a toddler and I went to nursing school. I got to listen to him play his harmonica for hours…and hours…and hours (thanks grandparents!).
I got to experience it. (And I only thought about how work was getting along without me a dozen times. That’s it!)
This was good. This was very, very, good.