Ah, the holidays. The gingerbread houses that line our street in Webster Groves were twinkling with Christmas lights. A heavy snow gave us two days of snow angels. Christmas music was everywhere, even when it wasn't: "Daddy, is this Christmas music?" "Yes, Clara, it's called a very Led Zeppelin Christmas. Do you like it?" "Yes, I do." Kate fell in love with anything Christmas, especially the tree and the animatronic Santa and Mrs. Claus, which she made sure to say goodnight to every night. Jim and Traci were coming into town with six-year-old Davis and two-year-old Elena. We were all set to have a wonderful Christmas...
Then Clara (let's call her Typhoid Mary) came home from school with a sniffle that turned into a cold that turned into pink-eye. With only one week to go until family arrived, we went into emergency mode: we got Clara's medicine immediately, washed everyone's hands repeatedly and their sheets daily, and kept them out of school and activities so they didn't spread or pick up anything else. Clara improved quickly, but the rest of us got hit hard. Kate got pink-eye in both eyes that came back three days after it seemed to be cleared up. It didn't help that Walgreens was three days late in getting us her medicine. I got a cold that led to a sinus infection, and Megan got bronchitis. Not only did we feel miserable, but according to the pictures from Christmas we looked quite miserable as well. We only got to see family a fraction of the time we wanted to, and even then we seemed to have passed on our illnesses to Jim and Tony. Sorry.
Clara, the only healthy Bittle this Christmas, spent her time developing a deep distrust for Santa Claus. I'm pretty sure she filed for a restraining order keeping him at least 50 feet away from her. At the RSI Christmas party she ran when Santa approached and declined her gift if it meant she had to sit on Santa's lap. Having thought long and hard about how she would get presents on Christmas from someone she really didn't like, she informed me that she would like Mrs. Claus to deliver her Christmas presents this year. She even called her on her pretend phone and had an entire conversation about it, assuring me afterwards that Mrs. Claus was OK with the new plan. "But how will Mrs. Claus get here if Santa has the reindeer?" "She'll drive her car." Duh, dad.
Whether from Santa or Mrs. Claus, Clara got her presents and certainly enjoyed playing with them, but nothing topped having a sleep-over with her cousins, which she would gladly give up all her toys to have every single night.
Oh, by the way, I didn't get off my lazy rear end soon enough to make Christmas cards this year so I hope you'll take this as a substitute.