Donna Sandstrom

Donna Sandstrom
Seattle, Washington, USA
September 10
Born in Brooklyn, raised in L.A. Studied at U.C. Santa Cruz, waitressed in San Francisco, found my way to Seattle in the early 80s. Career in high tech (Aldus/Adobe) until 2007 when I left to do The Whale Trail. Writing on Open Salon since May 2008. Go Obama!


DECEMBER 16, 2008 12:36AM

The Cold and the Christmas Tree

Rate: 15 Flag


I came down with a cold last week. Or, should I say, I got clobbered by a Monster Cold that started skulking around on Wednesday, and made its full body assault over the weekend.

I went so far as to reach for the cold medicine. There were three different kinds of Thera-flu in my cabinet. Did I have a cold and flu, or just a cold? Was I ready for Maximum Strength? While I puzzled, the Cold turned up the bass in my head, turning a dull cottony ache into a pulsing, piercing throb.

Through the feverish haze, I remembered to check the expiration date. Every single package had expired  in 2004. 2004! I've had a 4-year run without a Really Bad Cold, and this one was about to make up for lost time. The Tylenol Extra Strength was good till 2010, so I took two of those, tossed the Thera-flus and went to bed.


 I have a bad habit of pretending like I’m not sick. Just power through it and it will go away. But there is a point where you have to concede defeat. Give into it, fully. You win, Cold, I’m going to bed, I’m not going outside, I’m canceling everything I was supposed to do, I will spend all day between the bed, the couch, and the kitchen table. I will forget all the things I was going to do today, and tomorrow, as long as it takes. Even though it’s almost Christmas, and my list included things like, Write Christmas Cards, Buy Christmas Tree, and Clean out the Guest Room before your Guest Arrives.

You win, Cold, I surrender.

The Cold was happy. It asserted its victory by keeping me in bed for another day. I was a pitiful rag in the mouth of the dog, tossed around by coughing fits, flung heartlessly back to the couch, sentenced to a rerun of The Charm School. 

The next day, I checked my arsenal of cold-fighting weapons. Tea, check. Garlic, check. Toast, check. Orange juice, Vitamin C, Honey, check, check check. Advantage, Me.

No lemons, no cold-fighting medicine to speak of, no brandy. Serious advantage, Cold.

 If it had been a different day, or a different cold, I would have walked to the store to make it more of a fair fight. But it snowed here over the weekend, the roads are wicked icy and we’re breaking records for how cold it isSo I stayed tucked in. The Cold snickered.

What the Cold didn’t know is that I have allies in the fight.

On Sunday my friend Kathy came over with lemons, cinnamon sticks, Daquil, Nyquil and a Christmas tree.

Not just any Christmas tree, the perfect Christmas tree, a 4-ft noble fir that fits on the table in the corner like it was born to be there.

She put on the lights (3 strands!) while I put a presto-log in the fireplace, and then she decorated the whole tree while I sat on the couch sipping tea, occasionally croaking an opinion. The Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.


The Cold and I have called a truce. I’m still on the couch, but I get to look at the tree. I’m having a good couple of hours, but I’m not going to say that out loud. I know who calls the shots.

The Land of Counterpane
Robert Louise Stevenson
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head, 
And all my toys beside me lay, 
To keep me happy all the day. 
And sometimes for an hour or so 
I watched my leaden soldiers go, 
With different uniforms and drills, 
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills; 
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets 
All up and down among the sheets; 
Or brought my trees and houses out, 
And planted cities all about. 
I was the giant great and still 
That sits upon the pillow-hill, 
And sees before him, dale and plain, 
The pleasant land of counterpane. 
Thank you, Kathy! 

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Awesome friend you have! What a lovely tree, and a lovely cat! You will win the battle over the cold as you have love where cold just has germs. Go, you!

Thanks, you guys. Feeling better already :)

Yes, she's a great friend, P.F. I am lucky!

Stellaa, please do email the chicken soup (did you post a recipe on here for that once? I seem to remember...And yes I have a bad cough, so deep it surprises me. And scares the cats ;) Everyone who's had it says it's a ten-dayer (sigh). But that times out right for Christmas...
Well, don't push yourself and get better soon. Don't take a bad cough for granted. Listen to Stellaa. She is wise about such things.
awww, that's so sweet. You be careful in this cold. I'm worried I could crack.
::gulp:: Okay. No cheese, no cream, get Real Drugs from Doctor if cough isn't better tomorrow, Make soup. Got it, and thanks!
So nice of Kathy to bring you that great tree! I love the kitty-head ornament. It looks so real!
I'm sorry you are so sick with 'the thing' but I'm glad you have the kitties to keep your feet warm.
If you don't feel better tomorrow, the doctor is probably a good idea. Waiting in the office for an hour to have him tell you it's a virus will kill some time.
I did that 3 weeks ago.
Freaky, you should slather up with a moisturizer before you go out, Oil of Trollay. (I blame it on the Nyquil). And be sure to keep your foot hole covered, if that cracks, we're all doomed.
Sounds like you don't turn to the cold medicine very often. Neither do I- no matter what they say, the stuff always makes me sleepy. Hope your once in four years cold is better by now. What a great friend, and great present- great post, too!
Thanks, Nutkin - if I sound as bad as you did, I guess it is time to go ;) I'll give him a call tomorrow...

And Gayle, you're right - I hardly ever take the stuff, and I remember buying it kindof recently, ha! The years are kind of flying by ;)
The doctor just told me to buy all the items you already have on your table. He didn't give me anything. He said if my fever got above 101 to give him a call.

But I did have an hour in the waiting room to catch up on my petri-dish, germ-infected, sticky-paged People magazine reading.
The Vicks! I don't have any of that, but I do have some tiger balm somewhere...

(What I would really like from those sickrooms of yore is a doctor who would rush to my bedside - no matter if it's snowing! - take my temperature, give me something to make it better and promise to come back the next day.)

(I was also thinking this is exactly the same kind of cold that Jane Bennett must have had when she had to lay up at Mr. Bingley's, and over the course of her convalescence of course, they fell even more in love. Pity I'm in my own house ;)
The expired medicine thing happened to me the last time I was sick too. I hope that all your medications expire again just the same and that when you are well you remain so until you forget all but your friend's kindness.
What a lovely wish, Susanne - thank you! I hope it goes like that, too :)
Well, hell. I want to go be sick with Donna! I have/had a cold that is/was not nearly as bad as Donna's. Brought it back from Las Vegas. But I'll be damned if I still didn't have to go to work last week and have that all day, year end meeting with the CPA in from Houston, start the crappy report generated as a result of that meeting, clean the guest room, decorate the tree, blow my nose every 5 minutes, gross out hubby with the neti pot (do it, Donna! helps even the cough), continue the crappy report -- WHEN I COULD HAVE BEEN IN A SICK BED NEXT TO DONNA!

Good news is, at least here in Texas, it doesn't last long. Get well soon, Donna, so you can enjoy the best of the season. You have a terrific friend.
A Child's Garden of Verses!!! Love it.

Also love: "I was a pitiful rag in the mouth of the dog, tossed around by coughing fits..."
Julie - ha! Sorry you didn't get to take some time off. With this cold, really, I didn't have a choice. If I was still working full time, I would have called in sick, or my team would have made me go home for how I sound ;)

Melissa - thanks! I always remember that poem when I'm sick, so thought I'd toss it in with the mix. Glad you liked it, and the dog line...feeling a little less rag-like today....
Colds bite. Don't touch a doorknob or a shopping cart handle until spring! Cute kitty! BTW, I view expiration dates as just suggestions. Except on dairy products.
Colds bite

Yes, they surely do ;) I was wondering about the expiration dates, would have taken the old stuff if I didn't have the Tylenol - but thought it might be like baking powder that you try to get away with and the cookies don't rise...anyway thanks for stopping by, stay healthy!
That is the most perfect Xmas tree. Cats LOVE Xmas trees!
Sending Holiday Cheer and Wellness to my favorite Mademoiselle!
Beth - thanks for stopping by! Yes, the cats are mesmerized by the tree, especially the twinkling lights and the lower hanging bulbs..Sometimes I find them napping under it, curled among the presents. I am sure they know how cute they are ;)

Monsieur! What a delightful surprise to find you here. A very merry Joyeux Noel to you, mon ami, I'm feeling much better already. Hurry back!
Thanks, Cherie - you too :)
Wow, sometimes you have to be down-and-out in order to discover what truly great friends you have. No doubt you'll always remember this Christmas. Hope you're feeling better by now!
Great friend, great tree, great cat