Christmas Memories

Christmas Twice

By Dena Simmons

Another long cold December night lay ahead of us. It would be much longer than we knew at the time.

With the last minute shopping behind us, we thought we would be able to rest. It was the 23rd of December and we had been at the mall all day. My husband, our four year-old daughter, our 16 month old son, and my brother had all enjoyed the long day. The kids got a picture with Santa. My husband and brother did their shopping. And I got those last minute items that I always seem to forget.

Sometime in the afternoon my son began running a fever. Having been plagued with ear infections in the past, I didn’t get too alarmed. I just dug out the Tylenol and gave him a dose. When the fever hadn’t decreased an hour later, we decided we better head for home. We live in western South Dakota, and the mall is an hour drive from home.

Jay slept all the way home. When we got home his temperature was about 102. An hour later, it was 103.6 so I gave him more Tylenol and called the doctor. The doctor suggested a tepid bath. That seemed to help, and I felt a little relieved. That, however, was a short-lived security.

I had put my daughter to bed and my husband and brother had both settled in for the night. But I was sitting up with Jay. When he didn’t feel good, he wanted mom to hold him and I wanted to know he was okay.

We were cuddled up in the rocking chair looking at a book. Jay always had muscle spasms when he ran a fever, so the first little tremors didn’t bother me. But, when he went into a full-blown seizure, it scared me.

I ran to the bedroom, and handed Jay to my husband. Then I went back to the living room. I had my brother call our Dad, who is the director of our local ambulance (at that time we didn’t have 911 access). I went back to the bedroom just in time to see my son’s seizure stop.

But now, he wasn’t breathing.

I scooped him up, and ran back to the living room. My brother was on the phone with Dad, but I couldn’t wait for the ambulance. I met my husband close to the door, handed him the baby, and went to start the car. Just as I got in the car, I heard my brother yell something about CPR. I was the only one in the house that had been trained, so I went back in the house, where my husband already had Jay on the floor.

He didn’t know CPR, but was following as much as he could from what he had seen on TV. I got to the floor, opened Jay’s airway, and he took a big breath. Now, I felt like we had time to wait for the ambulance. I got Jay bundled up, and my husband went to start the car. We live ten miles from town, and I knew it would take time to get the ambulance to our house.

Jay was admitted to the hospital that night. However, since they did not have a pediatric staff, he had to be transferred to a larger hospital. Here it was now Christmas Eve, and I was an hour away from home and my four year-old daughter.

My parents took my daughter to their house. Somehow, Santa found her that night. On Christmas morning, she found a stocking and gifts with her name on them. I’m sure my sisters’ stockings were a little less stuffed than they would have been, but no one seemed to notice.

My husband, brother, and I held off on Christmas until Jay got out of the hospital. On the 26th, the doctors let us go home.

Santa made a return trip that night. On the morning of the 27th, my children had the Christmas that I had planned for them. My daughter thought she was very special that year. She got to have Christmas twice!

Jay got tubes put in his ears the following April. He is now fifteen years old, and very healthy. Every year on Christmas we thank God, and Santa, for the year our daughter got to have Christmas twice!

Father of 7, Grandfather of 7, husband of 1. Freelance writer, Major League baseball geek, aspiring Family Historian.

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