This past Christmas was definitely a work in perseverance, patience and a lot of God is in control for myself.

My husband, Kevin and I, usually get my sons and their families together within a few days after Christmas, but it ended up being a couple weeks after the holiday before we could celebrate with them.

Things started to go awry the week before Christmas. My dad fell, which led him to go to the hospital for a seven-night stay after first being brought down the stairs in a chair at his assisted living facility because the elevator quit working — something that lasted two weeks.

Perhaps it was stress. Perhaps it was because another co-worker was out with influenza A, too. Either way, I then ended up with influenza A and was off work for two days before Christmas.

Christmas Day finally arrived and my husband and I went to the hospital to visit with my dad. While there my son, Sean, brought his wife and my daughter-in-law, Katie, to the emergency room for a bad stomach pain. The pain resulted in surgery to remove a bad appendix. She got to have a lovely room in the “dungeon” — what they call the basement of that Sioux City hospital — because all the beds in recovery on the fourth floor were being used. COVID-19 and flu patients were keeping the hospital pretty busy that week.

Then the day after Christmas, I brought my mom to the emergency room because she was very weak and had a bad cough. After 8 hours of waiting and tests (but mostly waiting), she was prescribed an antibiotic and sent on her way, which was upstairs to visit my dad who was still there. Katie was still in the dungeon, too, so I went to visit with her to see how she was doing.

Back to scheduling Christmas — we usually have Kevin’s and my kids and grandkids all together but because of conflicting schedules, half would be able to come Jan. 2, the other side we would schedule when they were available.

That day was a nonstarter also. There was an ice storm warning and I was worried about the kids driving on bad roads. Then, unfortunately for Kevin, I gave him my flu, so a double whammy that day.

We tentatively scheduled the following Sunday, Jan. 8, for another chance to get together and that date ending up working for both sides!

The celebration did come to fruition with everyone there and having a good time. We all had our fill of Kevin’s yummy prime rib, cheesy portabella mushrooms and other Christmas dinner staples before the kids and adults opened their presents.

The most fun the kids had besides opening their presents was chasing each other out in the snow. From the frequent snow and ice storms, we had huge snow drifts in our yard, which is like a magnet to kids. All five of our grandkids were chasing each other around outside. They might not have had coats, mittens and sometimes shoes on, but listening to their giggles and excitement of chasing each other made the waiting worthwhile.

Life is very short and needs to be embraced and treasured.

Debbie Nibbelink is an editorial assistant at the Sioux Center News. She may be reached at