Life in Ministry, Mommyhood

That Time Of Year

It is that time of year again…

Like most people, I love this time of year.

Gatherings with family and friends, extra-special services at church, recitals, parties…and yes, even the travel, and the shopping….

The months of November and December are usually full-to-overflowing with wonderfully fun and festive special events.

But, that also means that we often feel obligated to be at each and every party, event, or gathering…leaving the entire family exhausted, over-committed, run down, and susceptible to another, not-so-festive part of this season….

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Unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for sore throats, coughs, stuffy noses, fevers, colds, flus…and pretty much any other symptom you can find on the label of a NyQuil bottle.

Yes, I realize that illness is simply a part of life in this fallen world.  It is a reality that, if forced to, I may grudgingly accept… But, I don’t have to like it!

What might be “just a little cough” for you or your child, turns into a 3 week ordeal, including words like bronchitis, pneumonia, inhaler, and chest x-ray for mine.  And, I have a healthy kid!!

But, I have friends (you might too) whose children are dealing with chronic illnesses, and severely compromised immune systems.  There are people in my church (and probably in yours) recovering from major surgeries, or enduring cancer treatments.  There are elderly people who are often more susceptible to germs, and viruses.  There are newborns who have not yet built up the immunity necessary to fight off “little” bugs.  There are expectant mothers whose medication choices are severely limited.

For them, “a little cough” may turn into a lengthy (and expensive!) hospital stay, and separation from family at a very special time of year.  For them, it might mean missing out out on that special moment of holding their brand new niece, nephew, or grandchild.  It may mean being unable to participate in special events, family gatherings, or church services that they have been planning and preparing for.

All because someone didn’t want to miss a special event at church.  Because someone didn’t want to “waste” (read: use) a sick day at work.  Because someone didn’t want their child to miss out on a class party.

The consequences of our behavior can reach much farther than any of us realize.

This is not a disgruntled mommy rant – although I am sure some may read it as such. And, as a mom, I do understand that sometimes, it is difficult, even impossible, to know that a child, who appears perfectly healthy in the morning, will be running a fever by mid-afternoon.  And at that point, the damage has been done.  She has already exposed everyone at church, or ballet, or the birthday party, to her germs.

These things happen.  And all the hand sanitizer in the world isn’t going to stop it.  (Believe me, I’ve tried!)

But, there are things we can do to help limit the spread of these uninvited guests.  Much of it is just simple common sense, but…

  • Wash your hands…with soap and warm water…for at least 20 seconds.  Before you prepare food, before you eat, and (goodness, I hope this one goes with out saying!) after using the restroom.  And, be sure to instruct and supervise our children in doing the same!
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.  This part of your body rarely comes into contact with surfaces that others may need to touch, such as doorknobs, faucets, etc., making the spread of germs less likely.  In the even that you do cough or sneeze into your hands (even if they are covered with a tissue), refer back to point #1.
  • If you are sick, stay home.  Even if you are starting to feel better, or have taken medication to mask symptoms…stay home.  “With the flu, you’re contagious a day before you start to feel sick and up to seven days after that. So it’s possible to spread the flu before you even realize you have it. Children can spread the flu for more than a week. You should stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without fever medication.” (WebMD)
    I realize this is often the hardest to actually do… We all have commitments – at church, at work, at school, at home. And, I am sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you are not indispensable.  You can be replaced.  Someone else can, and will step in and cover for you – just as you would do for them if the situation were reversed. I am of the opinion that the list of good (meaning legitimate) reasons for missing church is short – very short.  But, communicable disease is definitely one of them!

Yes, the goings on  this time of year are special!  But, they are special to everyone, not just you.  And no one wants to miss out!

So, in light of that, can I just make a simple request?

Be considerate of others.



  1. Elizabeth

    This nurse, with a compromised immune system, thanks you for this post, your information is excellent. My grand-daughter is sick right now because a sick kid came to her birthday party. I told my daughter to put “keep sick kids home please” on next year’s invitation. And remember, hand sanitizers do not replace soap and water, which remains the number 1 prevention.

  2. Well said. I can think of many times that my kids have spent time with friends or relatives only find out, too late, that those children were on the “tail end” of a sickness. I’ve definitely been more aware of this since my sister-in-law has been battling an auto-immune disease.

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