This week was all about Christmas, and next week will be too!  Christmas is a wonderful holiday, too wonderful to miss. It is good to wish for peace on earth, and to feel good will to one’s fellow human beings. And this year, I’ve noticed more healthy foods – I personally brought raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, along with pomegranate juice, apples, cheeses and gluten free crackers to our Christmas party (though I also ate the fudge and cookies…)

It is so nice to have such a cheerful holiday when the weather is getting awful. In clinic, Em and Jennifer decorated the office with a lovely Charlie Brown type tree (from the Welcomaa Club). Thank you to all who sent lovely Christmas cards!

At the same time, it’s easy to become stressed at this time of year.   I hope that no one feels pressed to buy presents that strain their budgets.  The holiday itself is a gift; there is no need to put oneself into debt. I am personally very sorry for the Chanukah presents I got for our kids when they were young that ended up as broken pieces of plastic…and lasted forever on my credit card! 

Also, not everyone has a family like those in the movies. I’ve noticed that people feel obligated to spend the precious time of the holiday with family who make them miserable. So my suggestion is that you keep the sweetest part of the holiday, like Christmas Eve, and Christmas Morning, to spend with people who truly bring you joy. You can visit with more difficult people in the afternoon, maybe do a volunteer activity together so as to be on neutral turf. 


I learned about the importance of focusing on Christmas my first year in practice, when one of my patients unexpectedly committed suicide. She had hidden her deepening depression from all around her, from her family, her friends, and from me, her doctor.  This was how I learned that in the setting of unhappiness in life, or family Christmas can intensify sadness. I’ve learned the wisdom of the old custom of having a “Christmas fund”, putting a little money away starting in January so that there is plenty to buy presents and good food by the time December comes around. In July, it’s a good time to become aware of whether the Thanksgiving/Christmas period is a hard one for anyone in your circle, and to help those who dread the season — make arrangements so that it is a time of happiness for them as well.  There can be a lot of drinking (alcohol) at the holidays; if this is not something that you want, plan ahead to do sometthing better….and please watch out for those around you. I wish you all the joy of this lovely season, good health and happiness in the coming year!

 

Note to Ryan: I actually thought about having a paragraph about the queries I get about whether I celebrate Christmas, and if not, what do Jews do – my husband, David, thought this was a silly thing to talk about.  But the answer is that we have a minor holiday, Chanukah, at this time of year, which has its own loveliness. What we do on Christmas to honor the holiday that is so central for our Christian friends is we do our two favorite activities, which are to have Chinese food and go to the movies….I guess this is actually sillly….