Trading Butterbeer and Turkey for Gatorade and Tylenol: Thanksgiving 2019

I had high hopes for our Thanksgiving break...

We'd be spending the week before in Tampa at the Youth Specialties conference (more on that later) and then head down to Orlando to visit Universal Studios. (Josh and I have spent the last few months listening through the Harry Potter series--we're over halfway through book 7!--and we’re very excited to visit Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley together.)

After a full day at the park, we would fly back to Texas where I’d spend the day prepping for Thanksgiving. (I had dreams of making these cookies and this chocolate tart.)

We'd drive to Dallas Thanksgiving morning, rolling in just in time for dinner with his family. We'd spend the following day at the movies before returning home to decorate our house for Christmas.

But, when we arrived in Orlando, all of that went out the window.

Let me back up...

We left the conference Sunday morning and had a beautiful lunch with a dear Mariners family now living in Florida. They dropped us at the airport to pick up our rental car (a Jurassic Park-style Jeep! Pretend there's a photo of us in it here. Once you read the rest of this post, you'll understand why it's only imaginary.)

We made the drive to Orlando with relatively few issues. About halfway there, Josh mentioned his allergies were acting up, so we stopped by Target to pick up some Claritin. I suggested we grab some cold medicine, too, just in case it was more than allergies.

Josh's dad generously gifted us a hotel room that came with early admission to Universal Studios, so we checked in, bought our park tickets, and set an alarm for early the next morning. We drifted off to sleep with visions of chocolate frogs dancing in our heads.

When the alarm went off the next morning, I looked over at Josh and knew our plans had changed. He said, "I think you’re going to have to go without me."

My initial response was frustration... we were so close! We could practically see Hogwarts! Not to mention the hundreds of dollars we'd already spent on admission. So I ran down to the lobby to find out if we could get any of our money back... if we couldn't, I had plans to drag my sick husband through the park. (Compassionate, I know.)

Hearing the news that the tickets are valid for a year kicked my care-giving side into gear. I swung by the coffee shop, grabbed myself a big iced coffee and him a banana and a Sprite. I whiled away the morning watching a Twilight Zone marathon and working on a Christmas gift while Josh faded in and out of sleep. 

By the time we got to the airport that evening, I knew I had not been lucky enough to avoid whatever it was that had taken down Josh. And, as judgmental as we all are about people who choose to fly sick, there was no way around it!

We texted his family to let him know we would not be subjecting them to whatever had taken over our bodies and boarded our flights, doing our best to cough into our elbows and navigate our way to the restaurant in each airport that serves hot soup. (I'm still not sure if the tortilla soup in the Houston airport is actually delicious or if I'll just remember it that way because it was so incredibly comforting.) 

We made it home... 

When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I said to Josh was, "I am so sorry that I even considered trying to make you go through the park feeling like this! I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus!" I hadn't been this sick since high school. It was the pits.

The next few days were a blur of sleep and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a lot of episodes of Lost, Seinfeld, and The Great British Baking Show. (Incidentally, that is one of the most comforting shows to watch while you’re sick. They’re so nice to each other!)

After a few days, the fog began to lift. Still a bit groggy and heavy-limbed, I began a Velveteen Rabbit-level scouring of our home. No dish, towel, sheet or countertop was safe. Everything was deeply cleaned to wipe away any chance of round two. (I threw away our toothbrushes, too.)

Finally, on Friday, we felt well enough to venture out of the house. We grabbed some Chick-fil-A and picked out our Christmas tree. The warmth of a fully decorated house was some kind of medicine all its own.

This was definitely not how I had imagined spending holiday week, but I did feel wonderfully cared for by my sweet husband and I was so grateful that we had those days to hole-up, rest, and recover.


  1. Wow...what a story. I am so sorry that your much-anticipated adventure was altered. Perhaps it was meant to be...'in sickness and in health' is not for the faint of heart. (Think double hip replacement...) I love you and your writing...and look forward to your upcoming stories from Universal Florida! :)

  2. Above comment from Julie Lester...