We were fully prepared for Christmas recently - or at least we thought. Presents had been bought, wrapped, put under the tree and then eventually packed into the car for the trip to my mother’s home 2.5 hours away. Christmas cookies had been baked and distributed, the house had been cleaned. Dogs were dropped off to be boarded, and our lights were set on timers. Off to grandmother’s house we went. Only, on morning of Christmas Eve, as my mom was already gearing up in the kitchen to make a big dinner for 16, my 9-year-old daughter stumbled out of the kids’ bedroom. Her cheeks were flushed. Her skin was hot to the touch and she was lethargic. A quick trip to the urgent care clinic and a flu test confirmed our fears: For the second Christmas in a row, the flu had struck our family. In 2017, our son came down with type B only days before Christmas, but thanks to a mild case and plenty of Tamiflu, he was well enough that we didn’t miss Christmas in my hometown with extended family. But now, we knew there was no way avoiding it. So much for the flu shot - we all had gotten one. We debated quarantining our daughter in one bedroom, which meant ensuring she wasn’t around my infant nephew or my 87-year-old grandmother. But then there was vomit. Just as quickly as the holidays at grandma’s house started, it ended. We packed up our vehicles with the gifts we had seemingly just unpacked, and my husband headed out first with our two daughters, who were both puking at that point. I stayed behind with our son for Christmas Eve dinner and church service. Then we headed out, too. Regardless of the flu, our little family would be together on Christmas morning. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who dealt with the flu over the recent holiday season. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu is now considered widespread over much of the Southeast, plus also in Colorado, New Mexico, New Jersey, Maryland and New York. While type A (H1N1) is common in much of the country, type A (H3N2) has shown prevalent in the South, the CDC reported last week. By the end of 2018, seven pediatric deaths had been reported this flu season. On Christmas morning, my kids woke up early, even our oldest, sick child, and crowded around our Christmas tree to see what Santa brought. I scrambled in our kitchen with what groceries we had to make a Christmas morning brunch, and then we opened the rest of the gifts, playing games and enjoying time together. It was a quiet, laid-back Christmas - the first one we’ve ever spent in our own home. And honestly, despite the sickness, it was so nice. Five days after our daughter came down with the flu, my husband got it, only his case was much worse than her mild case, taking almost five days to get over. We are still on a “wait and see” mode about the rest of the family. But, as we head back to school and work following the break, our home has never been so sterile - we’ve been busy washing hands, using hand sanitizer, washing bedding and spraying down any and every surface with Lysol. I guess if there is one way to start the New Year, it’s flu-free. Here’s hoping. Here are recommendations on fighting the flu, from CDC.gov: - Get a flu shot. While the shot can reduce cases of the flu, if someone gets the flu after vaccination, their sickness may be milder. - Try to avoid contact with sick people. - While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. - If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. - Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands. - Wash your hands often with soap and water. - Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. - Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.