The 10 days of Christmas went downhill from Day 1

01/10/2010 12:00 PM

11/17/2010 4:19 PM

  1. I've had some time. And now I think I'm ready to talk about what happened over Christmas.

Looking at all the frozen food and unopened champagne, I'm still running the numbers in my head: 11 people - 10 days - nine stomach bugs.

Just goes to show, when you're planning to host your entire family for the holidays, you really don't know what you're planning for. Just because you cook a turkey, doesn't mean you're going to eat turkey. It might mean you're going to eat saltines. You just don't know it yet.

We started Christmas Day with seven of us. Both my boys got sick on Day 1, my husband on Day 2, my sister, Day 3. Day 4 brought some stomach gurgling to my brother-in-law and me, but that didn't stop us from adding four more people.

My nephew got it Day 5, I got it the day after, but a group rallied Day 7 for New Year's Eve. On Day 8, five people left, leaving my sister and niece, who both tumbled Day 9 and continued to fall until I put them on a plane on Day 10. Bon voyage.

Everything in between was a series of chance meetings. As one would quietly disappear into a bathroom, two others would emerge, ready to rejoin the party. I think I ran into everyone I wanted to see. I only saw my parents the day they came, but Mom slipped me a gift card for a facial.

People winced at the sight of champagne. The only thing bubbly anyone wanted to see was ginger ale. Same with food. Aromas were something to be avoided. Had to keep the air neutral and staid. A pot of chili on the stove could have killed someone. I cooked popcorn one night and I thought my sister's head would explode:

"THANKS for the SMELLS!" she snarled.

Whoops. Better snack on celery. Or cardboard, to be safe.

But everyone was certainly motivated to get out and do things. If you felt good, you were in a mad scramble to get in all your movies, lunches and card games. Because you knew you were gonna get it. You better get it. If you don't, you're not spending enough quality time with the family.

You figured you had a couple days before moving into the Dead Man Walking category. But once there, we knew how to get you prepared - towels, ice chips and a trash can. See ya in two days.

Suspiciously, the only two that didn't get it were my parents. But if I think about it, they wouldn't touch playing cards, Legos or their g

randchildren. They had an unusually long trip to the mall. And I'm pretty sure they were only using clean silverware instead of rinsing off the dirty stuff.

But we were all together. And when you're down at the start of a New Year, there's only one way to go from there.

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