Ginny, Logan, and I normally traverse the greater southeastern US each December, traveling to visit alternating parents on Christmas Eve, returning to Knoxville to enjoy Christmas morning at home, and then sometimes looping back to see the other set of parents later on Christmas afternoon. Needless to say, it’s quite a trek, and we usually end up exhausted. So, this year, we decided to plan a low-key Christmas celebration at home. Somehow, we even convinced the in-laws to come to us for a change.
We took the entire week of Christmas off work to prepare. Ginny was excited, because she loves to cook and hates to leave the house unnecessarily. I, on the other hand, can get cabin fever during a long afternoon at home, so I was happy to run little errands and piddle around the garage. Logan was thrilled to queue up the non-stop Pixar movie marathon (he’s really connected with Ratatouille and the Christmas short, Prep & Landing, lately) in preparation for Santa.
After some initial weather-related drama, my wife’s folks arrived Sunday afternoon to spend a couple of days with us. Logan had a great time with his Grandma and Papa. We shared an early Christmas celebration, Logan enjoyed opening his first round of gifts, and Ginny made sure we all stayed well fed. Big, country breakfasts twice in one week…I told her I felt like a newlywed again.
My parents (or Nan and Pap, as Logan calls them) arrived last night. After dinner, and amid much speculation regarding the whereabouts of Santa, we got Logan off to bed. However, our night was just getting started. About 2 AM, he woke up howling with a low-grade fever. Logan’s typically a pretty sound sleeper, but toddlers get stomach bugs all the time, so we quieted him and got him back to sleep. He started moaning at 5 AM, but again we calmed him down, gave him a little Tylenol, and got him off to sleep again. But when the rest of the family got up at 7 AM ready for Christmas morning festivities and Logan was still sleeping, we knew something was amiss. He normally wakes up the roosters each morning.
We finally managed to rouse him around 9 AM, but I could tell he wasn’t quite himself. He moaned when I changed his morning diaper, and he clung to me all the way downstairs. I’ve never seen a two-year-old less enthusiastic about opening gifts, and he seemed to ache when his feet touched the floor. Finally, we decided to gather him up with his brand new Buzz Lightyear action figure and take them both to the local ED. On Christmas morning. Oy.
Twelve hours and a battery of tests later, I’m sitting in my son’s room at Children’s Hospital, minus one toddler-sized, infected appendix. Aside from the three tiny scars he’s “earned” (it’s a guy thing) from his laparoscopic surgery, he’s probably too young to remember this Christmas in a few years, but it’ll stay with me for eternity. Next year, I think I’ll try celebrating Kwanza instead.