Thursday, 29 January 2009

Christmas Cough

Ah yes, and so another year dawns. Well, actually, dawned some time ago. Yes, sorry, I’m late. Again. So that’s that New Year’s Resolution down the pan already. Sigh. Well, I guess I should know by now, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Oh no. I shall be late forever. I shall forever be late. Live with it.

So how did it all go? I ask this every New Year to whoever might be listening. And I think the answer is quite simple: anyone who managed to get away probably had a great time and anyone who got stuck at home and stitched up with the turkey probably wished they were anywhere but. Let’s face it, late December is a pretty lousy time to be celebrating Christmas in most of the northern hemisphere. Ok, so you get the Christmassy bit with the snow and frost (if you’re lucky) – though of course there wouldn’t have been much snow and frost in Bethlehem, I would imagine, even way back then. I don’t think global warming has been that rapid. So really we should ALL be rushing off to sun and sand to get in the true Christmas mood, without so much as a nostalgic backward glance to bleak mid-winters. But no, we cling to the wintry theme and deck the halls with holly and ivy; we light the fires and pull the curtains; we huddle together and cough all over eachother and then wonder why we all get ill. Yes, Christmas falls at a truly stupid time of year. All that effort, all that anticipation, and then everyone ends up with flu or some such other heinous lurgy.

I have to say, I thought we’d done the sick thing to death in this household in November and early December. Aha, I thought, we shall all be through it by Christmas! But no! I had singularly failed to factor in the grandparents bouncing up from Sussex, a spring in their step, and walking straight in to a stagnant hotbed of latent germs. There they were, hanging in the atmosphere, lurking in every nook and cranny, curled up in front of the fire, waiting for their moment to pounce (the germs, not the grandparents). They timed it well: 4.30pm on Christmas Day, just as over-cooked turkey had been partially consumed, my father and my mother-in-law, with absolute synchronicity, keeled over. Both were shivering like jellies while I was huffing and puffing about the overheated room; both called weakly for hot water bottles, more blankets, buckets (in case they were to cough so hard they vomited), cough medicine, paracetamol, Lemsip, Beechams, throat sweets and Olbas Oil. Thank God I keep a well-stocked medicine chest, though it’s looking a little light now after the raid. My father stayed in bed for three days and only got up because he had to drive home. My mother-in-law pretended she was better after 24 hours but clearly wasn’t and still sounded awful last week. My mother succumbed to The Cough on Boxing Day and retired, shakily, to bed. Like my mother-in-law, she bounced up the next day, coughing everywhere, and trying to tell me she was fine and felt better up than in bed. I know the real reason they refused to lie down was that they were determined to ‘help’ me as I had a ridiculous schedule of sorting out the aftermath of Christmas and a full house for a week (my brother was here too), as well as pack for a two-part, two-week holiday which included skiing and myriad different events and birthdays while we were away so loads more parcel wrapping and card writing and general unwanted palava. Going away normally is hassle enough without all those unwanted extras. To be fair they’d told us we were mad and that they wouldn’t come and stay over Christmas and I was mad and said ‘Oh no, it won’t be a problem’. Of course it was and they were desperate to help me and I was desperate for them to stay in bed and get better.

The other cock-up was suddenly realizing that we’d committed a school-boy error on the logistics front: 8 months ago we booked a ski holiday, flying in and out of Manchester. Then we decided to go to France for New Year flying out of Gatwick. We were planning to drive down from here to Sussex. Ah, now, that would mean that we’d fly back into Manchester and our car would be in Gatwick. Brilliant. So at the last minute we had to find three (expensive) flights from Manchester to Gatwick for me, N and the mother-in-law, while my parents were tasked with driving their car back to Sussex with our girls in tow. All this would have been just about ok if they weren’t on death’s door. As it was it was all a bit of a drama and very stressful for them and everything went a bit tits up on the relationship front as exhaustion and worry set in from every angle. But, hey, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bloody good row or two, would it? Frankly I think we did pretty well to have 3 young children, 2 stressed parents, 1 gay bachelor and 3 ageing grandparents all together for a week and not end up with blood on our hands. We should be very proud of ourselves. It could have been worse.

How was it for you?

Ps: I got ill on our ski holiday. Of course. On my daughter’s birthday. Super. Couldn't eat for the rest of the week. Great. Hoped to lose weight. Didn't. Bugger.
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