Against all odds . . . getting into the Christmas spirit

For all of you who do not celebrate Christmas . . . substitute your own holiday here.  Regardless of where you live or who you associate with, this time of the year brings rituals of togetherness, reflection, thankfulness, giving, receiving and hope.  The artificialness of this is annoying to many . . . perhaps most.  After a year of living our lives at a frenetic pace, trying to scrape a living from the barren soil, butting heads with others, muttering expletives under out breaths or shouting them out of the open car windows, we sing about . . . The Most Woooooonnnnnderful Tiiiiiiimmmme of the Yeeeeeeaaarrr . . . and eat too much and drink too much and make nice with the relatives.

So, which is the lie?

It doesn’t matter.

The appropriate question is more like . . . who do you want to be?  What kind of life do you want to live?  And, on a practical note, what steps are you going to take to make this vision of yourself and your life come true?  These steps or changes cannot be buried in the bluster of the New Year’s Resolutions that are designed to be forgotten and broken.  To carry the Christmas Spirit forward requires change.  But not, I think, change of doing so much as change of not doing.  I know that the feeling of the Spirit of Christmas comes to me less when I am shopping, decorating, cleaning etc, than when I take the moments to sit back and savor the holiday.  The awareness of the feeling comes with the time of quiet reflection.  Not with the doing of intention.  But even those times of doing can be filled with the Spirit of Christmas, too.  I heard a spot on NPR the other day that left me filled with the Christmas Spirit.  It was a piece about a hospital Chaplain who was blessing the hands of all the people who worked in the hospital.  She got down to the surgical prep room where the instruments for surgery are sterilized and assembled for the next day’s procedures.  It was in in a windowless room in the bottom of the hospital.  The work was tedious and required meticulous precision.  All pieces had to be on the tray in the right place in the right number.  No mistakes are permissible.  It turns out that the women who’s hands were being blessed had been doing this for 35 years.  And for those 35 years, every day, she would spend the time assembling the instruments praying for the success of the operation and for the health of the patient being operated on.  On further look, the Chaplain found that ALL of those who worked in this vital but invisible job did the same think.  Sending their prayers and their positive energies to the healing of others . . . the healing of strangers who they will never meet.  

If only I could bring that goal into my life with the same steadfastness.  If only I could bring that approach of empathy, hope, health, healing to everything I do throughout the year.  When I am in the grocery store . . . filling my gas tank . . . seeing patients at work.   We all need to have an infusion of empathy . . . hope . . . health . . . healing . . . and the best way to get it is to give it.  Freely.   Without keeping score.  With trust that the universe will take care of you if you take time to take care of others and give to others.  With trust that, when you hit the bumps in the road that cause you difficulty, there will be a instrument technician in the basement praying for your healing.  That there will be strangers who will help you out.  That the right person will be there at the right time to say and do the right thing.

My personal thanks go out to all of you who have tuned in to see what I am thinking and what I am writing about.  I have had more than my share of Bumps In The Road this year, and fielding the comments and questions in this Blog has been a joy to me . . . even if it appears that I am too distracted to write (and I have been at times).  I wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season filled with the opportunity for quiet moments where you, too, can feel the presence of all that is good in the universe.

God bless us, every one.

–Dan Hartman, MD

2 comments to Against all odds . . . getting into the Christmas spirit

  • tria

    Beautiful. This is what I strive for as I begin working the 12 Steps of AA. Would you mind if I copied this onto one of my cards that I carry with me to remind me of my path? – 10 months sober

    • T–Thanks for the reason to re-read it. If I can have one small part in your journey of sobriety . . . my life has had meaning. Copy and take it with you. My best wishes to you for a peaceful and healthy New Year.

      –DH MD