Monday, December 31, 2007

Holiday Travels (Part II, or How not to spend Christmas… or Why the flu shot doesn’t work…)

Perhaps my title has given away the punch line. The day after I arrived in Rhode Island for my four day, fleeting Christmas visit to the parental units, I started to cough. The next day was Christmas, and I woke up with a full-out flu - the real thing: nasty muscle aches, fever, cough, congestion, headache, the whole nine yards. This all despite a flu shot. There’s also the coincidence that I seem to get sick every time I visit my mother, but I’ll choose to ignore that one...

My state didn’t really affect the Farmer Family Christmas plans – we’re quite devoid of traditions, aside from stockings, my father’s grumblings about the size of the Christmas tree, and late-morning present-opening. But I was unable to make the persimmon pudding cake I had planned on, and my mother had to cook the winter squash, which she’d never done before (she did a very fine job with both recipes. Though I would have added herbs to the squash… but my mother’s lack of fresh herbs and complete absence of garlic from the house is a different matter). More than that, my father was going to be alone in drinking red wine for dinner.

I made it to the living room for the annual stocking and prezzie opening. Highlights? My brother gave my mother a recycled-metal piece of art: a rather clever crab made of old horseshoes, giving no doubt as to the intended species. My brother received numerous books on the coming apocalypse (climate, oil, politics) with the delight and enthusiasm only a cynical lawyer could have on those subjects. My father reserved his usual grinchy comments as he sat on his spiffy new rocking chair. And I couldn’t be happier with a new selection of cookbooks (The Muffin Book was particularly amusing, and the accompanying floppy silicone muffin pan viewed great interest – with slightly rolling eyes, I was obliged to put on my chemist hat and explained that it wouldn’t melt in the oven), novels and the DVD collection of the BBC’s Planet Earth.

I’ll spare the details of five days spent in bed. I read a lot of books. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta was quite excellent – funny, well-written and an interesting commentary on the role of born-again Christians and the American education system (a high school health teacher is forced to teach an abstinence-only curriculum while she battles with the local churches on post-soccer-game prayer).

So I managed to finally get on a plane and home yesterday. Still a little battered from the flu, and frustrated by having to miss the New Year’s festivities, but at least I have a bit of time to come up with appropriate resolutions – one of which will be not to bother with next year’s flu shot…

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