Christmas Chronicles III: The Gathering

As the kids battled colds and coughs prior to our departure for Hoosier-land, I said to Jason: ‘this year I guess WE’LL be the ones who get everyone sick [at the Johnson family Christmas].’ Since, inevitably, after spending two days sequestered with eleven adults and seven children during flu season… is nearly impossible to escape without one of us getting sick.

Unfortunately, we’ve arrived healthy the past three years…and left with various and sundry bacterial infections, prescriptions for antibiotics, and a week of recovery in the New Year.

But this year, I was sure we were going to be the infectors, not the infectees. Not that I was excited to pass along our snotty noses and coughs and poor appetites….

But, as usually happens when I make a prediction, it turns out completely wrong.

I knew it was going to be bad when Jason’s brother crossed the threshold of the bed and breakfast where we were staying, looking somewhat grumpy….or puny? ‘Happy birthday,’ I congratulated him, ‘how does it feel to be 33?’

‘I don’t feel too good,’ he replied. After spending a few hours languishing on the couch, his ill feelings culminated in a rigorous series of upchucking. Etc. The following morning, my niece started crying at the breakfast table, right before she started puking. Another niece followed suit a few hours later. And my newest brother-in-law succumbed by nightfall.

One minute he was calmly sitting on a chair, ensconced in a skunk pelt. The next, he was running to the bathroom. Loudly and forcefully emptying the contents of his stomach.

I once read that Jackie O let water run from the faucets when she went to use the bathroom, because she didn’t want people to know what she was doing in there. I understand such eccentricity as I have a similar aversion. I do not like to hear ‘bathroom noises.’ Of any kind. So, listening to my brother-in-law retching in the adjoining room while I was playing cards, almost sent me to the bathroom.

To make matters worse, the bed and breakfast we were staying at experienced some significant plumbing problems while we were there. I went to bed the first night, and noticed there was no running water in our private bathroom. I poked my head over the upstairs railing and announced to the Settlers players below: ‘is it weird that my bathroom doesn’t have any water?’

Turns out only two of the five bathrooms had running water the next morning. Not a good situation for eighteen people; some with stomach bugs. Buckets of water were being carried to non-functioning toilets in an effort to flush away their ill contents. By mid-afternoon, the problem appeared to have been solved. Two hours later, we were operating on one or two bathrooms again. And then the problem was momentarily corrected, again. By evening there was no running water in the kitchen but the bathrooms were fully operational. On our final morning there, after we awoke from little sleep, we were informed that there was no running water. At all.

As we packed up our cars and left the premises, the poor plumbers were still working on the explosive pipes. Two more sisters-in-law spent the day puking, and a third succumbed two days later.

We’re still waiting, with our fingers crossed.

One thought on “Christmas Chronicles III: The Gathering

  1. Although I feel so bad for all of your sick relatives, I can’t stop laughing!! I say throw the book idea away, you need a sitcom! (I’m kidding about the book thing- I plan on them being published and ready for purchase by next Christmas- seriously)


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