Stories from a Life I Didn't Plan

Best-laid Christmas Plans Derailed

Best-laid Christmas Plans Derailed by Family Illness

The best-laid Christmas plans derailed due to unexpected family illness. While on chemotherapy, I maintain a quiet, sequestered life to protect me from the risk of infection. Once I realized my chemo schedule would leave me free the entire week of Christmas, I made plans with family to spend the week at my elder sister’s home and go across town to my parents’ home for various activities, including gift opening and Christmas dinner. I anticipated this special time to enjoy with my loved ones. Little did I know a severe, highly contagious virus would sweep through the household, resulting in our best-laid Christmas plans derailed.

Best-laid Christmas Plans Derailed

Annual Tradition of Admiring Christmas Light Displays Was Missing a Few Important People

Early in the week, it became apparent that sickness had hit my parents’ house. First one, and then another fell ill with a nasty respiratory virus, making it imprudent for me to be in close contact with my dear family. Thankfully, my sister’s family across town remained healthy, so I stayed nearby with the hope that the virus would pass quickly.


We had also all joined in a family meeting using Skype early in the week, so I began to think about Skyping with one sister who could not be with us for Christmas for gift opening. It seemed to be the next best thing to being there.

As Christmas dawned, family members were still ill, making it impossible for me safely join them for our planned celebration. So, we cooked dinner in separate kitchens across town, transported dishes for Christmas dinner and gifts, and then logged into Skype so that we could watch as gifts were passed around and opened.

Although I did not get the hugs I normally enjoy while home to visit, amazingly, the joy of Christmas surrounded us and we were able to watch via Skype as each one peeled back wrapping paper of carefully selected gifts. Skyping made us slow down and focus on each individual family member, appreciating the joy of receiving a well chosen gift and the resulting gratitude expressed. And, we sent one another air hugs and other expressions of love through cyberspace.

While we had seen our best-laid Christmas plans derailed, we still savored a delicious, potluck home-cooked Christmas dinner and celebrated this special time together through the miracle of modern technology.


  1. Yolanda

    What a grand way of making the best out of a derailed / hijacked family time. So thankful for SKYPE and social media that allowed for you to remain close with dear ones!

    • chelitacrowe

      Yolanda, I agree. Technology served us well this Christmas.

  2. Dorothy

    You, Michele, and your family are amazing! I am inspired every time you share your time together. It is a shame that the close knit nuclear family has become such a rare occurrence in this country!!! You all are truly blessed.

    • chelitacrowe

      Thank you, Dorothy. Yes, I am absolutely blessed to be part of such a wonderful family.

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