The Omicron Christmas

Elise and I went to a Christmas party last Saturday (12/18) and some long-time family friends’ house. We’ve admittedly had our COVID guard down for a while. We’re both fully vaccinated (but not yet boosted). So we went to said party unmasked. And had a grand ol’ time hanging out with friends.

On Monday I woke up and knew something was wrong. I knew I was getting sick. Probably a cold. I kept feeling worse throughout the day. I nudged myself out the door during lunch to go for a run. Usually a run will right whatever’s wrong with me. That wasn’t the case on Monday.

Come Tuesday I was feeling really crummy. And so was Elise. I took a COVID test and it came back negative. Elise thought she was having symptoms of cedar fever. Both of us were getting worse.

On Wednesday late morning, Tara brought over a couple COVID tests for us. Elise went first. Positive. I went next. Positive. Five minutes later I had to hop on a Zoom call with the CEO and VP of HR for the job that I’d just started 3 weeks prior. Thankfully, despite my recent diagnosis, my spirits were high and the meeting went really well. And come to find out, our head of HR had just tested positive for COVID the day before as well.

Later that evening, Mara spiked a fever, had a headache and was nauseous. Thursday came around and Maly got it too. Four out of four had COVID, just in time for Christmas.

Steve and Joanne were supposed to drive down from Des Moines to spend Christmas with us. Elise had a telemedicine appointment on Thursday morning to inquire about quarantine times, and solicit advice about her parents driving in. Doc said Steve and Joanne should stay put.

So it was a quiet Christmas this year with just the four of us quarantining by ourselves. In the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been a lot worse. Mara’s bout with COVID was fast, furious, but short-lived. She was almost back to normal by Christmas Eve. Elise was pretty much back to normal. I never really got laid out, but maintained this steady state of feeling at around 70%. Maly took the brunt of it. She was laid out with a fever for a good 24 hours. She finally started looking human again late Christmas morning.

We all watched A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. Maly stayed up late because she’d been sleeping most of the day. I was ready to conk out at midnight but Elise reminded me that we had Santa duty.

Like a kid, I excitedly woke up early on Christmas morning. And Mara wasn’t far behind me. She and I hung out by the base of the Christmas tree with Blue and Loki. Mara played with the toys that Santa had left her. In that moment I found a little solace in the notion that this might be the last year where she has toys under the tree. It’s so damn sad that she’s not going to be our little kid much longer.

It was a quiet Christmas. Just the four of us. There weren’t many presents under the tree so the hubbub was relatively short-lived. But I think we were all okay with that. At least that’s what everyone said. We had cinnamon roll pull-aparts and egg casserole for breakfast before we started putting away the carnage from presents. Maly went outside and started putting together the lacrosse goal that Santa brought her. I started braising the short ribs that Elise ordered from HEB.

The rest of the day was pretty low-key. We hung out in the front yard for an hour. Mara colored. Maly shot goals. Elise raked leaves. I talked to mom on the phone. Cedar pollen brought us all back inside.

We watched Elf while I shredded short ribs. We all FaceTimed with Steve and Joanne for a couple hours. The girls both went to bed and Elise and I watched A Christmas Vacation. I think that’s the movie that has become my must-do Christmas ritual. It ended right at midnight and I felt like Christmas was complete.

It was a bit of a solemn Christmas. It was 80-degrees here in Austin. We all had COVID. Steve and Joanne couldn’t come down. We couldn’t do anything because we’re quarantined. Even if we didn’t have to quarantine, I don’t think anyone really wanted to do anything. But, we were all here together, and I guess that’s what Christmas is all about.

As I type this, in true form, I’m suffering from some mild post-holiday blues. I went for a run later this morning and then drove to 7-11 for coffee after taking a shower. When I turned the Jeep on, there was regular pop music playing on 95.5 instead of the 24/7 Christmas music.

I feel like we were a bit robbed of Christmas this year. But, in the grand scheme of things, we were together. And, again, that’s what’s important. There’ll be more Christmases.

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