Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

My Christmas Story

I will always remember my daughter Rebecca’s first Christmas. During the entire month of December, she was constantly sick with reflux and respiratory illnesses. On top of that, her 3 and 5 year old sisters were also passing germs back and forth so one or more kids would be sick, up all night and in need of constant care at all times. It seemed like I just drove around in circles: pediatrician’s office, pharmacy, home. You could imagine that this left little time for baking cookies, wrapping presents (much less BUYING presents) and all of the little tasks that moms do before a major holiday.

Somehow I survived it all. I did most of my shopping by mail order since I couldn’t take the kids out. I would wait until all three girls were in bed at night and then run out to the food store, mall and toy store. I carefully plotted my itinerary: I had a very specific list of things to buy and where to buy them. First, I would go to the stores that closed at 10pm and then head for the toy store or food store that closed at midnight. I would hurry home before the first night waking and get a few one or two hour stretches of sleep all night. Then it was up at dawn to administer medication, breathing treatments, fever medication and watered down juice or re-hydration drink. I did manage to send out Christmas cards, bake cookies and set up the tree. All of these tasks were squeezed in with the high level of care-giving my ailing children required.

Just when I thought that things could not get more complex, the entire family, one by one came down with a stomach virus the week before Christmas. Then Rebecca was hospitalized for three days and discharged on Christmas morning. While I stayed in the hospital with Rebecca, “Santa” aka daddy had to find all of the toys and treats that had been stuffed in closets and under beds throughout the house. Friends arrived on Christmas Eve with bags of groceries and cooked a wonderful holiday meal for our family.

On Christmas morning, I missed all of the excitement of seeing the girls open their presents. But I felt a sense of calm, too, because somehow we had survived this Christmas and Rebecca was well enough to go home. The girls loaded up their loot (luckily Santa has brought them new doll strollers) and headed for the hospital to get us. Santa and Mrs. Claus were waiting for them with more presents. They could not believe their good fortune at actually seeing Santa in person on Christmas day. We were quite a sight: I was sleep deprived and wearing my best sweatpants, the girls had doll strollers heaped with new toys and Rebecca was wheezing but cheerful for her first Christmas with Santa in the hospital. The older girls agreed that this was their best Christmas EVER!

Next time: My Top Holiday Survival Tips


Check with your
doctor first!