“The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,” — from “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns
That pretty much sums up this past week for me, and pretty much our household. We did celebrate Christmas, but let me show you the comparison of what I planned, versus what, I guess, God had in mind for us.
We would get together with Andrew’s family on the 24th, have a great time, exchange gifts, and enjoy seeing those from far and near. Then, on the 25th, Christmas day, we would spend a nice, relaxing, quiet day at home celebrating Jesus’ birthday, complete with a birthday cake that Paul had requested. On Saturday, we would go to PA and spend some of the day with my mom’s family, seeing some great Aunts that I haven’t seen in a few years. I had everything lined up just so, all I had to do was execute the plans, and it would all work out just great.
How it all unfolded:
I was cranking through the tasks I had set for Monday. Andrew left for the airport to pick up his brother who was flying in from CA. I was tearing around the house vacuuming down cobwebs from Paul’s room and the bathroom, and dusting Paul’s room (which was where our guests would be staying). I wasn’t quite finished with that, when Paul, who was supposed to be napping on my bed, started complaining that his ear was hurting. I called the pediatrician and got us an appointment for an hour later. I got a few things put away, woke up Hannah, and loaded everyone in the van. I couldn’t get out the driveway. I tried and tried and tried, but the packed snow and ice was too slippery. Some of the guys that were here working on our new room shoveled gravels on the driveway. I still couldn’t make it. Then I let Todd drive the van, and he tried many times, and finally got it out of the driveway. We got to the doctor’s office 15 min. late, but they still saw us. It ended up Paul had an ear infection in both ears. We had them call the Rx to the pharmacy. We crept through the packed ice in Wal-Mart’s parking lot to get some milk and a few other necessities while we were waiting for the prescription to be filled. We made it home safely, but I did not go down the driveway. I parked on the road at the top, unloaded the groceries and the kids, and then I parked in one of our neighbor’s big flat parking spot and walked back to our house. So, that ate up my evening, and I didn’t get everything for Monday accomplished. To top things off, I had diarrhea and vomiting all night long Monday night. That pulled me back a few gears.
Well, Tuesday started off even with me being sluggish. I thought I could still get back on track after losing time on Monday evening. In the afternoon, even though I really wanted to nap while the kids were napping, as soon as I put them down, I headed into town to get a few last gifts for Thursday. Weak from all the GI upset, but full of will-power, I got where I needed to go and got the items successfully. As soon as I opened the door at home, Andrew said, “Thank goodness you’re home! I just about called Lowe’s and Wal-Mart to have them page you and ask you to call home.” I found out that Hannah had vomited twice (from coughing too much) and Andrew didn’t know what to do and wanted me to call so he could ask. Anyway, she had managed to vomit all over her bed, lots of covers and blankies, her clothes and Andrew’s clothes and it was in her hair. Great. That nixed my plans for that evening. I was doing laundry, bathing Hannah, and making her bed. And, she hadn’t had a nap, which made for lots of crying. My sister Lucy had come in from Wyoming, and she called and wondered if it would suit for her to come over to hang out and help that evening after work. Did it ever suit! She came and entertained the kids while I worked at making pizza to restock our freezers, and after the kids went to bed, she wrapped pretty much all my gifts for Thursday. Andrew wrapped some too, and he helped get the last of the pizzas made. I talked to my sister Gail that evening and found out that Katie, Luke & Glen (my siblings) were staying with her while my mom was in PA. She very graciously offered Katie and Luke to come help me on Wednesday.
I got an early start on Wednesday. I skipped exercising and started bread dough instead. Katie and Luke showed up around 9:30, I believe, and I got them started right away on making all my food for Thursday. Earlier in the week, I had given up my ideal of baking the pies Thursday morning so they would be good and fresh and the best for our noon meal. It was even more humbling to have my sister Katie make the crusts. I am very particular about my pie crusts, and I think this was her second time ever of making pie crusts. But, I felt like I had no choice, and she was positively beaming with happiness that she was getting to make pie crusts for me. How could I say anything? I did give her a few pointers. Luke made the pumpkin and apple pie fillings, and we had pecan pie filling in the freezer that Andrew had made earlier. Luke also made the stuffed eggs and Katie made the 7-layer salad. They also made 4 lbs. of hamburger into meatballs for another event that’s coming up. I wouldn’t have done that on Wednesday, but the meat was thawed in the refrigerator, and it had to be done. I think we ended up running the dishwasher 3 times that day. And, I still had a lot of items to wash by hand before going to bed that night. Speaking of bedtime, while I was bathing the kids, I was cleaning Hannah’s ears. I usually clean their ears with a Q-tip (does nobody else do that anymore?). Hannah cried out extremely loudly when I cleaned her right ear. I pulled her out of the tub and hollered for Andrew to bring the otoscope. I looked in there, and I saw blood. Oh, I wanted to die. I was sure I had punctured her eardrum and she would be deaf in that ear for the rest of her life. I cried. I called the doctor on call, and she assured me it would most likely heal on its own and be just fine, but that I needed to bring Hannah into the office in the morning. That made me feel a little better, but I was still crying. Andrew and I managed to get the kids to bed, and then I got the kitchen cleaned up and we got things lined up to leave early in the morning.
We had Hannah at the pediatrician’s office at 8:00 (instead of being at the family gathering at 7:30 to help get the breakfast ready like we had planned). We found out that she did not have a punctured eardrum, I had just scratched her ear canal. However, the reason she hollered so loudly was she had an ear infection. And the doctor thought she was getting pinkeye. So, we got prescriptions and headed to the breakfast with Andrew’s family. The breakfast started about the time the pharmacy opened, so I loaded up a plate of food and went to the pharmacy. While they were filling the prescriptions, I went to Wal-Mart and got 9 (yes nine as in nine) boxes of tissues because Paul’s, Hannah’s, and my noses were running so much we were emptying tissue boxes at our house at an alarming rate. When I got back, everyone was waiting for me so we could open gifts. Hannah was pretty miserable all day, even though I gave her Tylenol and Ibuprofen pretty regularly. Only Andrew went to our church’s Christmas Eve service.
I had determined this day would be a success if nobody needed to go to the doctor and nobody threw up. There was a finger foods lunch get-together at Andrew’s parent’s house. I wasn’t planning on us going anywhere that day, but since one of Andrew’s brothers couldn’t make it to the main gathering on Thursday but would be there on Friday, and since all the siblings hadn’t been together at one time for a couple years, and since some of the siblings come from the other side of the U.S., I thought we could at least inconvenience ourselves a little and go for a short time. We started out, and Heidi & Glenn (who were spending the nights at our house) followed us. It was raining and cold out, but our roads were pretty good. It never occurred to me that the roads for the last several miles to this house were dirt roads, some of which have grass growing up in the middle. They were packed snow and ice, and the rain was making them as slippery as wet jello. Before we knew it, Heidi & Glenn had turned side-ways in the road and were stuck in a snow bank. Andrew got out to help them, and after a while, I decided to slowly travel the rest of the way to the house and get Andrew’s dad to bring a shovel up. I had only gone a short distance when I saw our other car (which Ben is using while he’s here from CA) down in the ditch with the rest of Andrew’s siblings working at getting it out. So, we sat there. For about an hour, they all worked and finally we moved on. They let our other car stay in the ditch (it wasn’t blocking the road), but they did get Heidi & Glenn’s car out. So, we finally got there and ate the good food, took family pictures, and then headed out. Andrew’s dad told us to go out another way that was less treacherous. We did that, and we thought Heidi & Glenn were going to follow us. Somebody took them to their car, which they had left at the top of a really bad hill rather than coming down it, and we waited at a safe place on the alternate route. After about a half an hour, we found out they had gone home by the first route. So, in the end, we all made it home safely. And we stayed home! Wendy and Joe came to visit in the evening, and my sister Miriam & Daniel came by to pick up my gifts for the PA relatives (I had already canceled out of that function). I had been coughing my head off all day, and unfortunately, that continued through the night. I hardly got any sleep, and I’m sure Heidi & Glenn didn’t either.
We stayed home. I felt more dead than alive, but we were home. I did get a 2-hour nap in the afternoon which really helped me. Prior to noon on Saturday, Hannah started acting like she didn’t feel good. And, she didn’t want to eat at lunch. Then, she threw up. Sigh. And she had diarrhea. We were going to have our four nieces and nephews over from Sunday evening to Monday evening, but after that, I called and asked if we could reschedule. I spent nearly all Saturday night coughing and got very little sleep.
Hannah and I stayed home from church. And we’ve stayed home all day. I am hoping for more sleep tonight and a better, healthier week next week.
So, that has been our week of Christmas for 2009. I’ve been tempted to think this is the worst Christmas I’ve ever had. I’ve been tempted to think everything has gone wrong. I’ve gotten irritated and in a bad mood at times and wanted to blame other people for this, that, or the other. But, then I realized something. Christmas is not about family get-togethers. Christmas is not about a peaceful, rich Christmas Eve service. Christmas is not about presents. Christmas isn’t even about having a good time. Christmas is about Christ coming to save us from our sins. When I remembered that, I realized I could be thankful about that, and rejoice in that even though we were sick, people were stuck in the ditch, and I didn’t get to make a birthday cake for Jesus. So, this Christmas has been a success, and a good Christmas because Christ came to save us from our sins, and is still saving me from my sins. And, I look forward to the day when the results of sin–this sickness, the cars in the ditches, the frustrations of plans falling through–will all be over.