On the night before Thanksgiving two years ago I woke up suddenly to the sound of vomiting. My three-year-old had come down with the stomach bug that had hit my other children earlier in the month. Unfortunately we were at my parents’ house for the holiday and I had not packed many extra clothes. I spent the rest of the night tending to her as best I could, quietly searching the crowded house for extra towels and blankets to keep the mess contained without waking up anyone else and spoiling their holiday too. By the time the sun came up, my poor daughter was only wearing a t-shirt and was lying on the floor swaddled in a large bath towel. I spent Thanksgiving morning catatonic on the couch watching Disney cartoons with my daughter while my mom cooked the entire meal herself. I didn’t even enjoy the feast that year because I was too tired and the smell of food was nauseating (thankfully I escaped the illness myself).
I thought of my pukey Thanksgiving this year when a friend posted on Facebook that she and her husband had to turn around shortly after beginning their drive to Grandma’s house when a similar stomach bug hit the family. They’ve spent the week at home while illness has worked its way through all their children and back again. Sometimes our best-laid plans for holiday fun are waylaid in the worst possible ways.
For those of us in the United States, Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season that lasts through the New Year, and I know that our readers in other countries will be beginning their holiday celebrations soon as well. This time of year is a great opportunity to spend with family and friends, enjoying special foods, music, games, and other festive traditions. But even during the most happy times, life can get in the way and sometimes illness, disagreements, bad weather, and other disasters spoil the fun.
I once spent New Year’s Eve in the emergency room with my six-year-old who had tried a ninja jump down the basement stairs and broken his foot. I’m forever grateful for my neighbor who hosted my other children for the holiday and packed me a bag of peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Holiday disasters may not be much fun, but usually in hindsight we can find something to be grateful for. If nothing else, after a few years, time will soften the edges enough to laugh about the gap between what we expected and what we got. My kids will forever remember the Thanksgiving when their youngest sister threw up all night, and I’m just grateful that this year was much less exciting.
If you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, how did it go? What have been some of your most memorable holiday disasters, and can you laugh about them now?