As tradition dictated, we got together with all the family for our Christmas Eve sub-sandwich fest with all the chips and dip and fixings: Grandma, Grandpa, uncles, aunts, four cousins, Mom, Dad, me and my six siblings plus Andrew and Grace. Eighteen people, not an insignificant detail.
Christmas fell on Sunday this year which meant Christmas dinner would wait until after church but during the service I didn't feel well. Something with my insides, a horrible gurgling-cramping-aching-nauseated feeling that should never accompany the holiday spirit, and once home I lay down to see if the feeling would pass. By the afternoon it was time for dinner at Grandma's house so I peeled myself off the furniture to get in the car, though I didn't feel like eating.
On the road it hit hard and by the time I reached the house I had enough time to desperately dash to the bathroom before deciding that I'd had enough of Christmas. However, while I was busy something strange was going on at the table. Like a bad episode of Survivor Christmas the guests were dropping one by one. First me, then Luke, then Andrew and even those who were left were eating with decidedly less enthusiasm than usual.
Cutting it short for the day and limping back home, the eye of the storm soon hit: Carinne, Dan, Luke, Andrew, Grace, Dad, Melissa, all sick. I huddled in bed, shaking and freezing--you know the kind of sick when you've got twenty layers on and still can't warm up? Where you're begging for death?
There was someone in each of the three bathrooms which left several victims without a place to go, Andrew had tried to get into the bathroom but as it was full (Luke was busy dying) he could only lay on the floor outside the door and groan. My sweet Florence Nightingale-of-a-mother, still on her feet, went from room to room distributing bags to those unfortunate enough to be without a bathroom, then made return trips to collect the used containers and redistribute new ones.
When I woke the next morning I felt shaky but alive--the hope of life filling my soul--and one by one family members crept from bedrooms and bathrooms to see who had survived the holocaust. One, two, three . . . all present and accounted for, though a little worse for wear.
It was the Christmas of Death and has been forever enshrined in memory as the holiday that wasn't. Turns out Grandma and Grandpa, plus Jim and his family were all sick too. Seventeen total because the next day Mom fell ill--and thank goodness for her delayed reaction or we'd never have made it through. The only one out of 18 people who didn't come down with our Mysterious Illness was Melanie. Very suspicious. I've seen enough "Murder She Wrote" to know that would make her the prime suspect.
Was it something we ate? Watch out for that bacon dip, it's a killer. Are there holidays that have special significance in your life?
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