The holidays are a wonderful time to be together. All sorts of loved ones gathered around, wearing festive and warm sweaters, nestled in small family rooms and dining rooms and laughing and eating and fingering cookies that were made by people that we truly care about but maybe don’t always have the most sanitary of habits.
Arms slung around one another, we sing carols and kiss under the mistletoe. We hand out hugs after we’ve handed out presents and at some point between the holly and the jolly, we exchange more than just Christmas blessings.
We exchange germs.
Rare is the Christmas holidays season I can remember without someone being sick. It might be just me and some sort of bad luck I was born with, but I think I have more sick Christmases in my memory than I do well ones. My children even like to reminisce every year the “world’s worst Christmas” when I woke up with strep throat and ruined the whole day of festivities.
We’ve had the string of cold and flu and stomach bugs and one year it was an odd rash that kept us away even from church. And no matter how many times we wash our hands and sanitize our homes, it feels inevitable.
Despite it all, being together is what I enjoy most about the holidays. It’s the greatest time of year when people gather in joyous occasion based on love and togetherness and the sharing of all sorts of stuff—warmth, gifts, food, smiles, viruses, and bacteria, just to name a few.
Consider our family’s start to the holiday season. My daughter brought home a special gift of an intestinal demon from a friend that challenged my ability to hold my breath and my carpet cleaning skills. She then gave her lovely gift to me, and because she loves her brother so very much, also gave to him. In the meantime, when we thought we were well and healthy, we decided, like anybody would, to enjoy holiday fellowship with friends and family. I met new people. I shook hands. I made food and invited people I care about into my home, which apparently I didn’t sanitize as well as I thought even though my hands have become raw shoe leather from all of the cleaning products.
And as I sit and wait for the holiday to officially arrive, nothing ready because we’ve been fighting the aforementioned intestinal demon, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if we didn’t live it a place that forced us all indoors this time of year in ugly sweaters, amassed around potluck meals and sitting in close breathing proximity. But the fact that we are goes to show that this season truly is a time for caring and for sharing.
The good stuff, and the bad stuff.
Originally written 12.18.16