This Christmas marks the sixth festive holiday season that Earl and I have been together. Let’s see… 1996 was 1, 1997 was 2, 1998 was 3, 9, 00, 01, yep it’s the sixth holiday season together. I always lose track, because our fifth anniversary is the day after Christmas, so that makes six.
Where were we now. Oh yes, it’s the holiday season once again in our merry little household. The tree is decorated so festively. The outside lights have been up since the weekend after Thanksgiving, and are now blowing fuses left and right. (I don’t know whose idea it was to decorate the 25 foot pine tree in the middle of our yard, but why did we put the connecting plugs at the top?) The tinny little caroling voices are screaming through Mr. High Fidelity and No Bass Speaker in the mall. Jingle BELLS Jingle BELLS, JINGLE ALL THE WAY. All of these are wonderful clues that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But the real cincher on the arrival of holiday spirit is my partner Earl. God love him, his body just falls apart at the thought of the holidays. It’s like his warranty has expired or something.
Our first Christmas together, he warned me. “I always get sick around the holidays. Actually Rick (his youngest brother) and I take turns, he gets sick one year, I get sick the next.” And to think I was marrying into this festive little family the day after Christmas! The giddiness of it all! Because the way the holidays fell that year and because our families weren’t quite adjusted to their newest couple, Earl went to Pennsylvania for his family’s Christmas, I went up north to my folks and then met up with him Christmas afternoon. “I was sick yesterday, but I feel great today, since you’re here sweetheart.”
So I made it through a holiday season without actually witnessing “The Near Death holiday experience”.
The following year he was just stopped up in the sinuses a little bit. I reminded him, “Isn’t it Rick’s turn?”
“Aren’t you cute,” he replied, and proceeded to suck up the entire boxes of Kleenex into his nose. Had I not been holding his baby niece, she probably would have followed the Kleenex. The honk was heard as far away as Peoria, Illinois.
I don’t even want to mention the holiday season of 1999. Let’s just say I should have decorated the toilet seat instead of the bay window.
Last year, as we were getting ready for a Christmas party at my father’s, he broke the news to me.
“I’m having a stroke”.
“So soon? We haven’t even gotten the Christmas shopping done yet and the bills won’t be here for a month, how could you be having a stroke already?”
“You know, you’re going to feel really rotten when I drop dead into this wretched egg nog.”
“How do you know you’re having a stroke? Do you feel like Grandma Walton in that 1960s version of the Waltons movie?” I asked, trying to sound sincere.
“You know, you could show a little more compassion for a man who’s having a stroke. My left arm is numb.”
“Well then, it can’t be a stroke if it’s your left side. It’s got to be a heart attack”, I said, with all the wisdom of Nurse Needles.
“No, I’m not having a heart attack”, he nearly hissed back at me. I didn’t even know he could hiss. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
So I didn’t.
I don’t like to sound insincere or uncaring, but I think that the inner child in him gets so worked up with excitement about the holidays that his body can’t take it or something. Maybe it’s because I have a somewhat twisted philosophy on sickness. I simply refuse to be sick. I won’t do it. I won’t catch a cold, I won’t harbor pneumonia and I refuse to take part in a flu epidemic. I am going to trudge through life healthy and that’s just the way it is. I try to introduce him to my philosophies on the matter, but he’s not having any of it.
This morning I noticed he started sniffling, so I suggested “Try some of the Echinacea. It suppose to boost your immune system. Or maybe you want to start building up on Cold-Ezze”.
“I hate that stuff. It tastes awful.”
“Yes, but sweetheart, maybe it’ll herd off this cold that you seem to be catching.”, I replied, trying my best to be the doting lover.
“No, I’m going to have a cold. It’s because of the holidays.”
Tonight we went on one of our annual “Ride Through The Snobby Section of Town and See The Lights” rides. Since today was such a beautiful, mild day, I took the opportunity to vacuum and clean the car, and I put an air freshener in it.
“That air freshener is a bit over powering, isn’t it?”, he nearly snarled.
“Why don’t you wrap it up in a napkin and put it in the glove compartment?”
He wrapped it up like a dead minnow and shoved it in the glove compartment, underneath all the manuals and everything. He then rolled down the car window and hung his head out like a sick dog. Since we live in Upstate New York, and it’s winter, I needn’t point out that it was 30 degrees. “You are going to get sick if you keep up the dog routine. Shut the window!”
As we held hands and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas displays, I noticed he was sniffling more and more. So we headed home, had a mug of hot chocolate each, and then I announced I was going upstairs to update the website.
“I’m going to watch a little television”.
I had just started up the internet connection when he dropped the news.
“My leg is numb.”
Always the concerned lover, I went downstairs and dug my fingernails into his leg.
“Ouch! What the hell are you trying to do to me?”
“I thought your leg was numb. I wanted to be sure.”, I replied, trying to sound as authorative as Marcus Welby, M.D. “If you don’t feel good, why don’t you lie down?”
“People lie down when they’re tired. I’m not tired. I’m numb.” he said, a little exasperated.
“You didn’t sleep well last night, maybe you need some rest.” I suggested.
And so he did. He actually took my advice. I just went and checked on him… he’s snoring away, once again making the cows down the road restless with all that noise. I just know he’s going to be all sniffly this week. And being the loving lover, I’ll be there pushing the Echinacea and Cold-Ezze… after all, what are lovers for? But isn’t it Rick’s turn this year?