By the time Christmas Eve rolled around this year, my family and I had already endured a long, hard December. Usually it’s the rampant commercialism of the season combined with the stress that accompanies the dwindling number of light-depleted days that remain in the year that rob me of the joy the holiday is supposed to bring. But this year, it was endless congestion, course coughs and constant fevers that left me feeling blue.
The succession of illnesses that’s run rampant through my family began in October. And since that time there’s not been so much as a single day when at least one of the seven of us hasn’t been legitimately sick. But December’s first few weeks have been the worst stretch yet.
We’re used to a lot in our family. You don’t have triplets as part of the mix without getting used to your fair share. Even so, we’ve never experienced anything like this two-month run of illnesses. It’s not lost on us that we could have it so much worse. It’s not lost on us how lucky we are overall. But, still, our lives have been turned upside down for over nine weeks now. And when our fearless leader, my lovely wife Caroline, went down on December 13th, the wheels officially came off.
It didn’t help that our oldest was sick at the same time, leaving me to occupy a role that’s admittedly not my strongest — that of primary care provider to the entire family. A week later, on Thursday the 20th, my wife was on the mend, but my oldest wasn’t. And whatever had been plaguing them seemed to be on to me, though I was determined to fight it off.
The next day, however, I took Caroline’s place in bed alongside my daughter, where I remained flat on my back until late in the day on Sunday. Meanwhile, Caroline was having to take care of us all while still not feeling so great herself.
So there we were, a family with five kids, heading into Christmas Eve with neither of the parents feeling quite themselves. And while our oldest was finally feeling better, our baby suddenly wasn’t, as evidenced by his high fever, runny nose and chronic fussiness.
It was for all of these reasons that I wasn’t 100% excited to go over to my in-law’s for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s not that I didn’t want to go. It’s just that we’d all been so sick. We were all so weary. So, naturally, I wondered how we’d do.
Our entry wasn’t the greatest in the world, though, then again, it seldom is, even under healthier circumstances. The triplets ran amuck throughout the entire house as five-year-olds are won’t to do. Alli did her best to keep up with them while her mama and I did our best to keep up with Luke as we made pleasant conversation with the other adults.
But we battled through that first hour or so till something funny happened. Christmas finally filled our hearts, as well as the hearts of all the others who were there. It was a large and happy crowd, consisting primarily of my wife’s side of the family. It was a diverse crowd, too, what with the four different generations represented. By the end of the night, Luke had calmed down while many of the school-aged boys and girls played with the triplets who were wrought with excited anticipation for Santa’s big visit. Then the adults got into the mix, as well. And soon, everyone shared that same youthful joy. Which is why so many of us accompanied the triplets outside and waited alongside of them with baited breath as we listened for Santa’s sleigh bells.
I caught a glimpse of my father and mother-in-law as they considered the merriment that abounded. They looked so…content. And it was easy for me to see why. Caroline and I should be so lucky to one day have so many people spanning so many generations celebrating such a significant holiday so joyously together under our roof.
And in that moment, I knew I’d stumbled upon a new goal. One that would take another 30 years or more to achieve. Assuming, of course, such good fortune is in my future.
Can you imagine?
Read more of JCO Multiplied:
NYC Nanny Killings: Personalizing the Tragedy
7 Things You Should NOT Discuss With the Parents of Triplets
How the DVR Ruined My Vacation in Specific and Parenting in General
15 Things Every Stepparent Should Know
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