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It seems inevitable with young children that someone will get sick over the holidays. In fact, with one in pre-school and the other in a pre-pre-school play group, my family is pretty much some kind of sick from October to March.
This December was no different, and we spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve snuggled in bed with a double ear infection, a case of walking pneumonia and a grumpy mom whose cold rendered all the delicious holiday food completely tasteless.
While it’s easy to grumble about illness disrupting our holidays (very, very easy to grumble when you have to sick toddlers cooped up in the house for a week!), it also served as a reminder of how lucky we are to usually have our health. The interruption that our treatable illnesses caused made me realize how smoothly the rest of our days usually go. We have no serious health issues and most of the time all five of our senses work perfectly.
It’s easy to notice the little aches, pains and stuffy noses, but how often do we stop to appreciate how good we’re feeling? How often do we stretch our arms and legs and appreciate their range of motion, or fill our lungs with clean, crisp air and recognize their capacity to aid in the vital spread of oxygen throughout our bodies? How often do I watch my children climbing and playing and laughing without feeling full of thankfulness that they are able to do so?
Now that they are feeling better (and, less importantly, my ability to taste food has returned), I am working to keep my sense of appreciation for our health (and for tasty food, of course). Pneumonia can be serious indeed, but our pediatrician caught it at its start and medicine, rest and lots of love healed my daughter right away.
What if we lived in a place without access to treatment? What if my child had an illness that could not be treated so easily? I take a moment now, tucking them in to bed after stories, to marvel at their warm, healthy little bodies snuggled beneath the covers. I encourage them to take a deep breath when we step outside, and to stretch their bodies after they wake up. When we turn on music and dance, or build a fort to climb around in, I remind them how wonderful it is that our bodies are able to do so. And I savor the taste of my morning coffee or tea, remembering how dull the day could seem without the ability to taste its richness.
Take away one sense, just for a moment. Hold your nose while you eat breakfast. Blindfold your eyes and try to walk through a room. Put cotton balls in your ears and try to have a conversation, or pinch your nose closed and try to breathe through a skinny straw. Sometimes it takes a momentary loss of what we take for granted to remind us of how lucky we are to have it in the first place. From something as serious as our ability to breathe to something as simple as tasting our morning coffee, walking and moving and playing and working through our days is a gift to always be appreciated.
[Photo Credit: Kate Ter Harr]