Fort Worth, Texas,
15:53 PM

How the flu stole Christmas

Why the flu kept Doc Smitty and family home

As a pediatrician, I am often asking adults to do things to protect my patients (pleading for adults to get pertussis vaccines to protect my babies for example).

This week presented an excellent opportunity for me to return the favor.

Our family chose to cancel our usual family Christmas. Not because the kids were bad and we’re not rewarding them. Not because we were frustrated with how commercialized it has become and are taking a stand. 

Actually, the rest of our extended family all got together and opened presents on the Sunday before Christmas as usual. We just didn’t go this year.

So, why didn’t we participate?


Since I have been a practicing pediatrician, I have somehow avoided bringing the flu home. Whether it was luck or blessing or whatever you want to call it, we have been spared, until this year. My two boys have the flu.

So why didn’t we go?

Believe me, skipping the excitement and fun of watching our kids with their cousins is heartbreaking. This is the first year that all of our kids seem to know something is different about this time of year and Christmas at my grandmothers is always one of the highlights.

But, taking a risk with the rest of our family is not worth it and it should not be for you either. If your child is sick, find some other way to celebrate that doesn’t put others at risk. 

Think about those people who are most at risk from complications of the flu: children under 5 years (especially under 2, all the new babies out there), adults over 65 years (grandma and grandpa), pregnant women (your cousin’s first baby) and people with chronic medical conditions. These are just the types of people who it’s hard to stay away from at Christmastime.

We will make the best of today and pray that we are all better come Christmas Day. You should do the same.

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page. He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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