Among the gifts under the tree still left to send to faraway relatives, the chocolate almond biscotti baking in the oven, the piles of clean laundry to be sorted and the semi-king size bed that is not and may never be made (Blake pushed together two twin-sized beds because, well, I'm 5. And I get scared. And I really hate sleeping alone.), I can be found with a box of tissues in one hand and a large bottle of Dayquil in the other. You see, I'm sick. Sick as a dog. Sick as a fish stuck to the filter of the tank. Sick as a rabbit that runs repeatedly into the sliding glass door.

Well, not really. It's a cold. But, as stoically and valiantly as I can handle food poisoning or the swine flu, I do not do well with colds. I hate how I have to conceal a tissue in the back pocket of my jeans. I hate that I wake up with lips chapped and one nostril plugged. I hate that I can't run because running makes my nose drip uncontrollably. I hate, most of all that, as sick as you feel, you will never get the kind of sympathy for a cold that you will for anything (or, almost anything) else.

So I'll try to handle it with grace. I'll get myself out of bed, eat an orange, and take another swig of cold medicine. Because that's what adults do. Some of them. At least the classy ones.

That's how I found myself going out last night to celebrate Great-Grandma Panza's 94th (I think) birthday at a pizza parlor in West Haven. Blake always reminds me when we're in the area that his great-grandfather built many of the buildings. It's a testament to how long the Panza family (Blake's mom's side) has been around.

And the number of people at the restaurant, which was less than half of the clan, is a testament to how many Panzas there are. It took us ten minutes to figure out that the group in the corner wasn't related to us and were probably pretty uncomfortable with the stares questioning their relation. At one point Blake noticed the five-year-old at the end of the table and I had to remind him that it was his second-cousin, Will. It's confusing. It really is.

Then at goodbyes I maintained proper distance from all pregnant and elderly folk, because I felt as if I had been stricken with the plague. I looked about the same.

Stay healthy. Stay away from me.

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