Monday, January 5, 2015

Ending the Holidays With Style ... and a Splat.

Some kids are barfers. Let’s just get that out there.  

It seems every family has one. I remember growing up in our rather large family that my younger brother was our designated barfer. Whenever even the slightest cold would work its way through the gaggle of siblings, he’d end up hung over a bucket for a few hours or a few days.

In more recent years, my own kids have had a fairly open competition for who would carry the mantle in our family. They’ve all done their share of regurgitation.

But as I look back over the years, and read the related posts, I realize that one particular family member has dominated the competition of late. And if there was any doubt, the crown was officially won at a recent holiday gathering.

The Boy holding his new Paw
Patrol figures -- yet unable to
hold down his stomach contents. 
Let me briefly set the scene. For the past decade or so – roughly since my siblings and I began getting married and starting our own families – my parents have hosted a post-Christmas family gathering and gift-exchange known as Ruddy Christmas. It usually happens the first weekend after the actual Christmas. This year, however, due to the strange alignment of the holidays and weekends, and the various travel plans of those involved, the gathering did not take place until three days after the New Year. While other families were busy preparing for the return to school and stripping their houses of holiday d├ęcor, we were engaging in one last Christmas bash.

Since its inception, Ruddy Christmas has always been a bit of a show – if only due to the sheer number of people and gifts crammed into one modestly-sized home. We have a big family, which has only grown over the years. Two parents (now grandparents), seven adult siblings and their significant others, some seventeen grandchildren, and add in our uncle and/or aunt on occasion, and let’s just say we’re probably violating the local fire code.

To outsiders, our raucous little gift exchange can seem like quite an “ordeal” – as it was famously described by one former attendee. But it also has an order to it.

This year’s orderly ordeal seemed to be going as planned. Most of the adults were tightly packed in the kitchen and dining area, sharing stories, enjoying cocktails and some even playing cards.  The kids had just settled down to a movie after an initial hour-plus of rough housing and chocolate milk. A few of the parents – myself among them – found a spot on the couch, with our offspring draped over us, as we watched the latest Netflix offering.  My 4 year-old son settled onto my lap, and even started to fall asleep.

Dinner was about to be served, and the gifts waited in a hulking mass around the tree. That’s when the soon to be crowned barf champion slid off my lap and turned to me with tears in his eyes and a telltale ghost-white expression.

“My tummy hurts,” he whined.

I’ve learned the hard way to take him seriously when he says such a thing. When he’s not feeling well and tells me this, I know I have less than a minute before he’s going to hurl.

The weird thing, though, is that he’d been perfectly fine all day. In fact, he was rolling around with his cousins on the floor just moments before we decided to calm them with a movie.

Still, his look and whine level told me this was serious.

“Let’s get you to the bathroom,” I said as I leapt from the couch.

My parent's first-floor bathroom lies across the kitchen/dining area from the family room and down the hall. It was going to be long trip, especially navigating all the legs. So I hurriedly began the trek walking him in front of me across carpeted rugs toward the hardwood expanse crowded with adults.

We'd just crossed onto the hardwoods when I -- and everyone else at the gathering -- heard that special combination of sounds: a gag, a gush, and a splat. I froze, as I’m apt to do in these situations, as curdle chocolate milk and bile spread across the floor like a Rorschach on steroids.  

I saw sorrow in it.

I also saw splatter hitting a jacket that had unfortunately found its way to the floor and also the back of someone’s leather boots. A person was in the boots, too. Luckily it turned out the boots belonged to the up-chucker’s mother – my wife – who was standing at the island between the kitchen and dining room putting the final touches on a beautifully planned salad.

It was a Beautiful Salad.
Well, to say a pall fell on the festivities would be understatement. With all the hors d'oeuvres and beverages that filled our stomachs, and the acidy aroma that filled the air, I half expected my boy’s actions to kick off an epic Stand-By-Me style Barf-o-Rama. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Though it felt like it had.

Instead, the evening forged ahead. We cleaned up the vomit, washed the soiled clothing, and finished making the salad. My wife I considered leaving immediately, but the snow outside had just turned to freezing rain, and inside the consensus was that his voluminous vomit must have been caused by excessive amounts of chocolate and horse play. At least, that’s what we chose to believe.

Dinner and the gift exchange happened according to plan. Though neither the salad, nor anything else, was as beautiful as before.
Still, lots of toys, books and clothes were opened and enjoyed. And one less celebrated crown was bestowed, as the boy officially became our family’s Barf King and forever added his name to Ruddy Christmas lore.


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Daddy's in Charge? said...

My kids have yet to ever throw up... nor have they eaten a salad.

Cort Ruddy said...

You're a lucky man. I think all of my kids have thrown up on me at some point. ... Though, never after they ate a salad.

Unknown said...

Man, am I glad that our kids aren't pukers. The only real puke has come when we all got norovirus. THen it was coming out of both ends, from all 5 of us.

Cort Ruddy said...

How unfortunate. I mean the norovirus, of course. We've never all been sick at once, always in waves, thank goodness.