° empty

Tis the season to be aching, fa, la, la, la

Deck the halls with airborne flu germs, cough, cough, cough, cough, hack, sniffle, moan, moan, moan.

The wise men may have started the whole idea of sharing and gift giving, but this year I have had enough.

Little did I know that my 3-year-old had been exchanging more than gifts with his classmates at school this holiday season.

I know I jinxed things when I told my wife Tuesday at lunch that I was glad that everybody in our family was well this Christmas. As a child, I was well-known for being the sick one during the Christmas holidays. Instead of unwrapping gifts, there were many holidays where I stayed wrapped up moaning under the blankets.

Strep throat, tonsillitis, chicken pox, even mononucleosis in college — you name it, I got it during the holidays.

Only hours after I counted my blessings before they hatched Tuesday, my wife received the phone call: Gibson had a fever and needed a parent to come pick him up.

Minutes later, my wife picked our son up, who was hot to the touch and lethargic. Although a single dose of Children’s Tylenol seemed to reinvigorate our little one, the doctor still wanted to see Gibson to test him for the flu. It seems that another one of his classmates had already tested positive.

Thankfully, Gibson’s test came back negative and the doctor sent us away with instructions to watch for any significant changes for the worse.

The next morning, our son was as active as ever. With a rejuvenated appetite, Gibson danced his way to the car as my wife packed him up for school.

His little temperature spike Tuesday was just an aberration. Our Christmas wellness plan was still intact, until I received the second phone call.

“He went lethargic again, when we got into the classroom,” my wife said.

Remembering all those days I tried to pull one over my parents, I was convinced Gibson was trying to do the same to us.

When I met up with my family, Gibson hopped out of the car ready to play.

Full of skepticism, I asked Gibson if he felt bad. He nodded and I asked him if he needed to lay down.

“No daddy I need to play,” he replied.

I asked him if he hurt. As he pointed to the top of his forehead he responded, “My throat hurts.”

“That’s not your throat Gibson,” I said.

“My chin?” Gibson replied.

We had been punk’d.

That was what I thought until the fever began to spike, and another trip to the doctor confirmed that he does have the flu after all.

As much as I associate Christmas with Santa, the presents, the music and television specials, I also remember the thermometers, yucky medicine and being quarantined from the rest of my family from those holidays when I was sick.

For weeks, family and friends have been telling my wife and me how wonderful this Christmas will be. Three seems to be the age when children begin to grasp the magic of the season.

But the magic isn’t so magical when it is accompanied by fever and aches.

Christmas is a time for sharing and being together. There are just some things that shouldn’t be shared — and the flu is one of them.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.