Pox & Stress

Christmas this year was a little weird.

For the first time ever, I patronized McDonald’s on Christmas Day. That pretty much sums it all up.

I ate a barbecue cheeseburger from the dollar menu for Christmas lunch, which is essentially a cheeseburger sprinkled with tiny spicy corn chips.

Basically, it just screams, “Festive!” Right? I also had a Coke on the side, so that was fabulous.

I did this because Jack has the chicken pox and is quarantined, yet he needed to get out of the house, even if it was only to a drive-through. Dutch and I took turns this week shepherding the remaining boys to family events, while the other parent stayed home to chill with Jack. And by “chill,” I mean giving him frequent baths, copiously applying hydrocortisone, administering benadryl and tylenol regularly, and trying to pacify him against his recurring moods of destruction.                                          

Christmas Day highlights included taking a drive through the frozen Cedar Valley, which was blinding and lovely in the sunlight; sitting by the fire and watching A Christmas Story while Jack played with his new toys; and reading from my beautiful new cookbook, which may inspire me to start cooking again in earnest. We’ll see. Don’t get your hopes up too high.

I should really stop here. I ought to simply appreciate and enjoy the good points and let the day remain a softly focused, vaguely warm memory.

But that’s not really how this blog works. You know me, truly.

It was a hard day, too.

The low points included Jack throwing a toy chainsaw at the ceiling with such force that he gouged out a chunk of drywall, Jack trying to bite me when I put him in time out, Jack flinging himself naked on the couch in an attempt to wipe off the hydrocortisone cream I had just slathered all over him, and Jack changing his clothes 37 times because he was itchy and uncomfortable.

By the time Dutch and the guys returned from visiting Grandma J, Jack and I were Christmased out. I needed to get my sorry Grinchy self hence, so I did something else I have never before done on Christmas Day—I went to a movie.

I dragged my mom along with me, and together we faced the billion other folks who also wanted to visit the cinema. In my attempt to leave behind the stresses of a homebound winter holiday with a child stricken by pox, I found that pretty much everybody was at their stress threshold.

Emotions were running high. Lines were running long. The couple who brought their baby to the theater were adamant about staying even though their child wailed periodically through the entire movie.

(Author’s Aside: That sort of thing doesn’t bother me as much as it once might have. Now I tend to simply enjoy the fact that I left my children at home, and that I’m not responsible for that little fussy person.)

My sister Kate pointed out to our sis Sarah (whose progeny were causing a serious stink about going to bed Christmas night) “It’s Christmas. Everybody is having a horrible night.”

Sometimes the truth gleams through the darkness brilliantly, and with clarity.

One more highlight I failed to mention: during the annual Christmas Eve Variety Show Family Predictions, my sister predicted that this year I would “write a book entitled, Pinterest is Annoying, and So Are You.”

There it is, gleaming. And sparkling.

I’m so glad Christmas is over.

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