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There are pros and cons of being beset by illness in the run up to Christmas and we’ve certainly had more than our fair share in our house. First there was the sickness bug en route to Lapland, then upon our return Jem caught chicken pox and finally, as the last of his spots began to fade, along came a dose of flu which affected the wife the worst. She had it quite bad, it might even have been that swine flu, especially as I even got it a little which is highly unusual as I am normally the carrier rather than the person who suffers. The swine, if you like.
So the cons are obvious. Illness leaves you with just enough energy to do the essentials which in our house is a) stop Jem scaling the fridge and doing 1001 other dangerous things, b) feed and walk the dog and c) work. All have been a struggle but at Christmas time it is worse because you have all these nice plans to do things for other people – which, lest we forget – is what Christmas is all about.
So this week I was too under the weather to go and sing at the male voice choir’s Christmas concert. Nor could I summon enough steam to attend a recording of a festive hospital radio show for patients stuck in hospital over this coming weekend. I haven’t recorded any Christmas messages from the children which I always try to send to family far away. Heck I haven’t even written a single Christmas card. It is like I have used this illness streak as an excuse to be bone idle.
Consequently one emotion has arisen out of this more than any other: guilt. I feel so guilty for not having been at the choir or radio or have landed on a good friend’s doormat to wish them a happy Christmas. Yes I am sad and regretful about it all but it is guilt I am feeling the most.
Then there is work. As I say, it’s been a struggle to get it finished and such is the freelance life that it is difficult at Christmas time to draw a line under what you have to do and just get on with enjoying the celebrations. In an office job, you know what time you clock off, then you just go home and immerse yourself in the spirit of the season without thinking there’s something you have to do by Boxing Day. But that is where the spate of sickness has left me.
Still it’s Christmas Eve now and so I am going to draw a line under it and enjoy myself. You have to. Very little work in the world is that important to stop you having a good Christmas and there’ll be plenty of time in the New Year to make up for any lost by flu days.
Despite the stress and the lack of health, there’s one thing I haven’t missed: how excited the kids are getting about Christmas Day and presents and Santa. At five and three, this is really a golden era of being a parent.
I mentioned there were pros to being ill in the run up to Christmas. This time last year I reckon we had already got through the non-coffee cream contingent of a whole Quality Street tin and had cracked open the packet of luxury chocolate biscuits. The 3 for 2 Pringles were virtually all gone. This year I’m still not sure how much we are going to feel like eating over the weekend.
But I do know the kids are going to have a great time. We all are. And I hope you all do too. Merry Christmas.