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Pile of newspapers on background

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. When the fever is spiking and people are hacking and sore throats are here … it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Ok, maybe not the exact lyrics we are accustomed to, but this time of year brings with it all the lovely symptoms we all have learned to expect in a normal year but with Covid — multiply it tenfold. Fever, sore throats, aching, coughing, runny nose …

I remember when I was growing up; we didn’t go to the doctor for these symptoms. We treated them with what we always treated them with home remedies. Kind of like a family recipe; whatever our grandmother did, our mother did. I’ve mentioned a few of these remedies before but thought it might be a great time to share again … since it is that “most wonderful time of the year.”

Chest congestion: that tight feeling; that awful rattle when you cough. Treatments: a mustard plaster. Yes, my grandmother has slapped a many of those on my chest and let me tell you; it’s not the most pleasant thing but it does work. Mix up 1 part of dry mustard (not French’s) to 1 part flour (maybe 3 to 4 Tablespoons of each). Stir and then add in hot water until it makes a paste the consistency of pancake batter. Spread it on a damp cloth (Mamaw always used an old t-shirt or tea towel) and then lay it on your chest. Warning: if you get too much mustard in the mix, it can burn your skin. You can, however, feel it drawing that infection out. I’m telling ya, folks, it works! If you don’t want to make a mustard plaster, there’s always Vicks Vaporub on the chest. My other grandmother, Mongoes, swore by Vicks!

Stuffy nose: there’s nothing like a little Vicks or Mentholatum under each nostril to open up your stuffy nose. Put that stuff under your nose at night and it will open up your passages in no time. You know you’re really “stopped up” when you open up a jar of Mentholatum and take a big whiff … and smell nothing. It’s very pungent!

Coughing: Warm honey and lemon water works- somewhat. Robitussin cough syrup works pretty well. I have never personally partaken of this “medicine”, but, the Dillard family had a friend who helped Burniece (Jerry’s mom) with cleaning, ironing (Yes! Burniece ironed, also) watching the kids, etc. Every year for Christmas, Jack would get her a “goodie box” filled with all of her favorites. We went with him one year to deliver the box and she was always so thankful to get it. I noticed her digging around in the box and she asked Jack “Did you get my ‘medicine’?” He would always laugh and say “It’s in the bottom of the box!” There was always a bottle of whiskey (aka:medicine) in her box to help with the cough.

Aches and Pains: There’s nothing better than warm PJ’s and a blanket and a couple of Ibuprofen. Period.

I never really understood the “Starve a cold, feed a fever” saying. Another family tradition that we’ve passed down through generations … “Feed a cold, feed a fever, feed everyone- everything you can think of.” If it sounds good, eat it!

So, as we enter the holiday season, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, eat and drink wisely and when you get those pesky symptoms that come around this time of year, try one of the home remedies. You might be surprised at how well some of them will work. (If not, then go bake a batch of brownies, get a half gallon of milk and enjoy! It may not cure the symptoms, but it will make you feel better!)