With holiday festivities in full swing, visions of sugarplums should be dancing in our heads. Unfortunately at this time of year we’re rocking out to the flu bug blues. The sweet scents of cinnamon, peppermint and pine commingle with the not so sweet aroma of Vicks Vapor Rub.

Newspaper columns abound with helpful medical advice. Steer clear from people who cough, sneeze or just look weird. Wash your hands. And don’t eat food that’s been out on public display.

What? After hours spent trolling through Costco for bargains, I can’t partake of those mini quiches that smell so delicious? That’s the best part of shopping. What about those delightful chocolate truffles? Chocolate is full of antioxidants. Doesn’t that automatically make them germproof?

How about my neighborhood holiday potluck? If Mr. Smith from down the block, appears with red-rimmed eyes, does that mean I have to beat him to the punchbowl before he gives the gift that just keeps on giving — the flu? Should I add more rum to the eggnog? If alcohol can destroy your liver, can it also destroy flu germs?

I’ve already decided that noshing on cashews is a no-no, but what about my favorite guacamole dip? Ms. Manners has informed us that double dipping is just not done. But did you see that big bowl of Tostitos? I could swear Mr. Smith’s pinky grazed the top of my tortilla chip.

Rather than allow the holidays to make me even more neurotic than usual, I’ve decided to go with the flow. I will hug but not shake. I will savor but not slobber. And I will stock up on my favorite holiday brew. A gallon of chicken soup.  With a chaser of chocolate chips.  It’s time to rock around the Christmas tree.

I’d love to know about your holiday traditions or favorite holiday pick-me-ups. Leave a comment by midnight PST Monday, December 20, and you could win a copy of KILLER RECIPES, a compilation of recipes from your favorite mystery authors.



[UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations to Judy Alter who’s getting her very own copy of Killer Recipes.]



  1. Elaine Fagundes on December 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Cindy, I laughed my a$$ off reading this post, and it's so applicable. I'm currently dreading getting the plague my better half has, and everywhere I go there are snot-nosed, coughing people conspiring to infect me.

  2. dkchristi on December 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I have a weak immune system; therefore, I am doubly careful. I avoid potlucks and stick only to the known source foods, served on plates with serving spoons. There’s a popular restaurant called the Melting Pot that specializes in fondue. I went with a holiday group and the dipping was major. I barely ate anything as I found it not fun. Sure enough, every single person at the party had food poisoning all that night, including me.

  3. Lynn Smith-Roberts on December 16, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I am so sorry about dkchristi's food poisoning. I went to The Melting Pot for my 25th wedding anniversary with my husband and our 2 kids and my sister-in-law (my step-daughter gave the meal to us as a present) and we had a jolly good time and no one got sick.

    But you do have to be careful, especially this time of year. Don't double-dip, sneeze in the dip, or paw everything, and see that the others don't either. Good column, Cindy, and funny to boot. Very clever.

    And congrats on being Book-of-the-week!

    • Cindy on December 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks Lynn. I find myself casting suspicious glances at everyone hovering around the buffet.

  4. Liz on December 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I do what you do. LOTS of chocolate. Very important.
    : ) Liz

    • Cindy on December 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm

      Those dark chocolate antioxidants are critical to maintaining your health during the holidays.

  5. JP Jordan on December 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I just can't be funny after that! Okay, I can be funny but not as funny as you! I love this, so true, too true, almost scary! Drinking through the holidays always helps me and I think it helps the family around me. Well…. it helps me and that's what's important. That would be my holiday tradition! Happy Holidays!

    • Cindy on December 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Hi JP. I like your style. If you’re full of good cheer I’m sure your family will be too. Happy holidays to the whole cheerful gang.

  6. Michele on December 16, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    If the fudge doesn't do it (and it should!) a hot brandy made with a sugar cube in the bottom if a wine glass, an ounce of brandy, hot water to the top and a clove helps clear up congestion. Or maybe you just don't care any more!

  7. david on December 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    most definitely ~ more rum in the egg nog

    • Cindy on December 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      That’s what my Mum always used to say!

  8. Jacqueline Seewald on December 17, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Is this post ever timely! I went to a holiday party last night and half the people around me were sick. Whe the dip and crackers were put out everyone used the same knife.
    Maybe I'm turning into Monk but I hit the wine instead.

    • Cindy on December 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

      Hi Jacqueline. I love Monk. All we need is Natalie and her purse filled with wet wipes to get us through the season.

  9. Betty Gordon on December 17, 2010 at 5:20 am

    I say eat loads of chocolate and chase it with alcohol–Mimosas anyone? I agree, Cindy, if alcohol can hurt your liver, why can't it beat down those cold bugs that pester us.____HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND STAY WELL!!!!__Betty Gordon__

    • Cindy on December 17, 2010 at 9:41 am

      Betty, I think mimosas could be the perfect cure for the common cold – Vitamin C and alcohol. Those flu bugs wouldn’t dare mess with that combination. Happy holidays to you.

  10. marcy on December 17, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Cindy you are so funny! Blog more often a good laugh is a great way to start the day!

  11. Laura Polkinghorn on December 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Mmmmm chocolate the new food group!

  12. Melissa on December 17, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Ah, but what about church? That's a holy hotbead of germs! Especially now that the sign of peace has morphed into a full body hug with complete strangers. And the chalice – to drink or not to drink? To dip or not to dip? I wear gloves and hope for some divine intervention.

    • Cindy on December 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      Hi Melissa. I prefer full body hugs with wool coats to shaking hands in church, but I never thought of wearing gloves. Combine that with a ski mask and it’s the perfect apparel for all of your holiday events.

  13. Joyce Scarbrough on December 17, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Build up a tolerance to germs and you'll never get sick. I eat food off the floor and gum from under chairs! Never been sick a day in my life and save tons of money. 😉

    • Cindy on December 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      Wow, what a great immune system. I think you have the secret remedy, Joyce.

  14. Alicia on December 18, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Kind of glad that I read this after the potluck brunch this morning. Thank you for the giggle! Hope you don't need the soup or the chocolate for medicinal purposes…

  15. STM on December 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Alcohol is an antiseptic, so, of course it helps ward off gerns.

  16. Paisley Kirkpatrick on December 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Clever idea for a post, Cindy. I love eating everyone elses cooking, but am now having doubts after all of the comments here. We don't get out much, especially during the winter months because of where we live in the mountains. The weather is our monitor. When we were in Scotland I discovered I like Scotch. Maybe that would be my way of facing the holidays….

    Merry Christmas to you.

    • Cindy on December 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Paisley and Sharie. Based on everyone’s advice for warding off the Christmas cold, I think all I want for Christmas is rum, whiskey and scotch. It is looking a bit like Scotland this weekend, isn’t it Paisley?

  17. Julie on December 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Hee hee. You guys are funny. I just refuse to get sick! I have always wondered about
    the communion cup at church though…

    • Cindy on December 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      You refuse to get sick. I like your positive approach! I’m racing around so fast I don’t think the germs can catch me.

  18. Judy Alter on December 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    My daughter refuses to go through a buffet line unless she is the very first person–and she still gets sick. I eat any buffet offered, dip any dips in sight, drink a good bit of white wine, and I rarely get sick. Either that natural immunity thing or the wine–I'm not leaving it to chance and giving up the wine.

    • Cindy on December 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      I may be starting a “ban the buffet” movement. But as long as there’s wine, which seems to be winning over Airborne with this crowd, all should be fine.

  19. Llyn on December 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Just went to a potluck on Tuesday. I took a vegetable dish that was going well until someone dropped the serving spoon down into the dish. Then folks avoided it for the rest of the night, and I had to throw out the rest. My new rule is to supply a spoon much longer than the dish! No, a better rule: skip the potluck and buy myself a big box of chocolate. Yeah!

  20. Cheryl on December 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Very funny, Cindy! I just had our whole family over for a "pre-Christmas" party. Thank god your mom was over her bronchitis and Julia Kersey stayed home with her illness. Our potluck was worry free, except for what I dropped on the floor!

    • Cindy on December 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Hi Cheryl. Wish I wasn’t so far away. My mother said everything was delicious and I’m sure you had plenty of curative wine on hand!

  21. Lynn on December 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Hmm … I made gingerbread houses with my kids this year. It was fun and it was a flash back to my childhood when my Dad made gingerbread houses every year. One year he made one for each of his siblings … 11!

    • Cindy on December 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      I’ve always wanted to have a gingerbread village. You still have time to build some more cookie houses!

  22. Jackie King on December 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I like the idea of lots of chocolate. If chocolate can cure cancer (it can, can't it???) then surely it can cure a simple virus. Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it. Party Hearty!

  23. Conda V Douglas on December 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Mine is making Christmas cookies with frosting–I love frosting! And no need to enter me in the contest–I’m in Killer Recipes and giving it as Christmas gifts this year, shh, don’t tell!

    • Cindy on December 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

      My favorite dessert is frosted cookies, but I usually just eat the frosting. Killer Recipes is the perfect gift, isn’t it? I won’t tell your friends if you don’t tell mine!

      • Conda V Douglas on December 23, 2010 at 11:53 am

        Cindy, thanks for visiting my blog–and I agree, the cookies are to hold up the frosting!

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