In honor of the one holiday song I cannot get out of my head, let’s celebrate 12 Days Before Christmas. For each of the 12 days leading up to Dec. 25, I’m going to post a link, a suggestion or something Christmasy that’s caught my attention and hopefully will interest you, too. To start with Day No. 12 (one day late, but who’s counting?) , here’s a link to a great story in Sunday’s Parade magazine about budget-friendly family Christmases — http://www.parade.com/features/holiday-2008/holiday-traditions I especially like the suggestion to spread the love throughout the whole month instead of piling it all on Dec. 25. I mean, making one day perfect is a lot of pressure. Resist the urge and make every day a mini-celebration, focusing on “doing” rather than “buying.” That’s great advice all year ’round, too — and not just years in which we’re afraid to check our retirement accounts. (“Just don’t look,” my husband says. “Just don’t look.”) Come back for Christmas Countdown Day No. 11 — something mindlessly entertaining just for mom.
And the reason my 12 days of Christmas actually starts on day No. 11 is because I was down and out all weekend with a stupid, stupid sinus infection. Warning, warning! When your sniffles and sneezes and coughs turn into something that hurts — a lot — when you blink your eyes, it’s time to stop saying pitifully, “I just have a little cold” and start saying, with confidence, “I think I have the worst sinus infection ever. Ever.” Of course, it was Saturday morning when I finally decided this, so it meant a trip to the doc-in-the-box since our regular doctor quite understandably closes on weekends. Thankfully, my college-senior daughter is home on Christmas break and she sweetly volunteered to go with me, citing all the times I’d done the same for her — a karmic parental pay-it-forward I was happy to take advantage of. It’s nice to have company in these situations. For instance, she’s the one who noticed that the guy in the waiting room seated a couple seats down from me moved a couple more seats further away at one point — I know I looked bad, but was I really that bad? She said that when I got up once to call my husband, the guy leaned over, said “She’s really sick, isn’t she?” and then had moved down by the time I got back. (Hey! Sinus infections are not contagious, buddy! What happened to good old human compassion???) Anyway, when I finally got to see the doctor, he totally agreed with my self-diagnosis, although I was thrown by the series of questions he asked that started with “Do you drink?” I answered, “Yes, moderately.” He next asked, “Do you smoke?” And here I can answer definitely, “No.” His next question — “Dip?” — momentarily confused me. “Dip?” I asked myself frantically. “Dip? Like french onion dip? White cheese dip? Why is he asking me this?” Surely I didn’t say any of that out loud but maybe I did, because the doctor repeated patiently, “Dip. You know. Snuff. Tobacco. Do you dip?” Uh, that would be a no. And then I wondered what about me made him think that maybe I did. I mean, again, I know I looked bad, but still. Apparently I passed all the other sinus-infection tests so I got a shot and an indecipherable piece of paper that I only hoped said “Give this woman some of those wonderful miraculous antibiotics.” Luckily, it did. So with modern medicine and my daughter’s excellent nursing, I rejoined the world after losing only two and a-half three days (plus four Christmas parties, dang it), although the four pounds I’d lost from not eating all weekend nastily reappeared immediately after my husband and I had our weekly Sunday-night beer and nachos at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Worth it, though.