It has taken some time to recover enough from Christmas to write about it. As much as I wish that recovery was as simple as catching my breath from a day that raced by as fast as a two year old can open his first gifts from Santa Clause, that is not entirely the case.
When I picked Elliott up from daycare on December 23rd, he and his classmates were gathered in a different room than usual. The teacher informed me that one of Elliott's classmates had been sick and his normal classroom was being sanitized. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. After Elliott threw up on me for the third time Christmas eve morning, I paid it a bit more attention. By Christmas evening, as Katie and I took turns darting for the nearest bathroom, that sick little child was about all I could think about. An evil side of me wished I had gotten my hands on Santa's list.
For the past three months, Elliott has attached himself to every virus and bacteria he could get his hands on at daycare. Then, with the spirit of his Thomas the Train toys that he so adores, he transports them home and offloads them on our mouths or hands or any other body part that looks like comfortable storage for his tiny microbial friends. If appropriate landing areas are not available, with the velocity only a two year old's uncovered cough or sneeze can provide, he sprays them into the air.
The morning after Christmas, as I struggled through my stomach virus hangover, I asked Katie to refresh my memory as to how much we paid for daycare. The question was irrelevant, there was no figure small enough to satisfy me at that particular moment. I could not escape the notion that I was paying to be sick. In sickness, it's easier to become self-centered. In healthy times, we have acknowledged the blessing of Elliott's daycare many times. He loves his school and the teachers have aided his development beyond measure. I just pray there are more healthy days than not ahead of us.
The good news is, there was a period of relative healthiness between Santa departing our roof and landing back at the North Pole several hours later. It was time enough for Elliott to experience a Christmas tree that magically surrounded itself with presents overnight. A red tricycle appeared out of nowhere; cookies and milk were whisked away like Prime Rib at a Golden Coral buffet. Elliott's wide eyes reflected his youthful amazement at the entire scene, an amazement that filled mom and dad's hearts with a Christmas joy hard to duplicate.
This Christmas, Elliott was more into the process of opening presents than reflecting on the contents. He had no particular care whether the gifts were his or Ian's, he just wanted to rip through the paper. He'd barely have one present unwrapped before he requested "another Santa present." It is a wonderful stage when a two dollar book from Walmart brings the same joy as a costlier Red Flyer bicycle. I venture to say that many of our economic woes today would not exist if we all held on to this tiny piece of our youth.
Ian did just about the only thing Ian can do right now, he kicked back and took it all in. He treated us to a grin of his own now and then, but that was more about Ian's latest phase than Christmas. He has started to reveal some triggers that make it easy for us to see his bright smile. Yesterday it was "give me five." I'd slap his little hand, say "give me five," and right on cue he'd break into a big grin. Mama's work is much easier, she simply looks his way and his happiness reveals itself over and over again.
Elliott and Ian both provided us with a wonderful Christmas. Sick or not, they make it easy each day to count our blessings. Most of all, we are blessed to live in a country where we can freely celebrate the birth of Christ, a country where we can freely follow his teachings each day and without worry, pass those teachings on to our children.
Our family prays that our friends and family experienced their own joy this Christmas.