When this blog post is over, you will be grateful that this is the only photo.
Like every American family, this marks the start of celebrating Christmas, enjoying old family traditions, and creating new ones.
Last year we discovered “Christmas in the Park,” a beautiful drive through Christmas light display that delights children of all ages.
Tonight we set off with our children (all but Isabelle who at the moment is giving thanks) and our dear friend Charlie Hibberd, to enjoy the drive through the splendor of lights. Complete with a fantastic Christmas play list, we set off on our journey. Like last year, we got lost. Yes, the 15 minute drive took us an hour, and Mr. Loux drove muttering who knows what under his breath until we finally found the park entrance. The line was long, but we had arrived and we were happy. Our family, Christmas tunes, good cheer.
We drove slowly, very slowly and arrived at the entrance to the light display about an hour later. Yes, 2 hours of driving thus far. Not to worry, we were having fun. Mattie’s first drive to see Christmas lights, merry hearts, and family love.
Happy Christmas to us all…. we rounded the bend delighted to see little green elves waving to us, cute little bears bouncing balls, a giant fire breathing dragon, and then…
Slow motion, cue the horror film music, HOLIDAY BARF. The darling Brit, Charlie Hibberd calmly declared the moment of horror to have begun, “Ummm, Aiden is….” Aiden, who had been seated in the middle of the 15 passenger van, delightfully close to his pal Charlie, heaved and unloaded from the pit of his stomach, the hot dog, hot chocolate and pretzel M&M’s that had entered his body just a few hours before.
My motherly instincts rose to the surface, and I had to force them into full action. Keep in mind at this point in the night, I had already fully visualized how I would handle any number of traumas related to MATTIE. I had thought through doing a trach change in the middle of a park in a dark van, bumper to bumper with 100 other vehicles. I had visualized how I would single handedly save my son’s life while barking out orders to have other family members stop traffic and turn the 15 passenger van around as we knocked over the dancing, lit-up Snoopy and took out Santa’s elves, speeding out of the park.
What I had not visualized was how I would catch puke and clean up an unspeakable mess in the midst of this same scene.
I straddled the van seats and started barking out orders. I relocated Emma and Charlie, while catching puke in empty coffee cups. Poor Charlie Hibberd, covered in chunks! We used every single wipe in the van and found an empty Ziplock bag to catch the continued retching. Please keep in mind the van lights are all on, and I am standing straddled across van seats in a LINE OF CARS with dancing Christmas lights all around.
To this day I do not understand where the motherly skills of cleaning up puke in a moving vehicle full of people come from, but they come from somewhere unknown and surface at just the right time. Willing myself and everyone else in the van to contain their stomach contents deep within, I undressed the puke covered son, and shoved his defiled garments an empty CVS bag. Windows down, air conditioning on high, we pulled into the closest CVS, 8 minutes after it closed! John made his way to the gas station across the street, and spent $16.97 on clorox wipes, paper towels, and Lysol. $16.97 well spent, I tell ya.
Did I mention that Mattie sat there laughing away, delighted just to be out with the family, grinning from ear to ear, while every other family member buried their faces in coats, scarves and whatever else they could find to stifle the stench?
We are home now. Children have been bathed. Clothes have been burned. And I pray that Jesus who loves me will spare me the agony of having this evil holiday puke spread its cheer any further.
And Charlie, poor Charlie, drove home in his underwear.