Category Archives: holidays and observances

“Tis the season, again

This is one of my favorite posts, probably because I had fun writing it. There’s no serious medical information in it, but I hope you will find inspiration to stop and think about the “reason for the season”.

Don’t  we celebrate more special events and holidays the last six weeks of the year than the rest of the year combined? It feels that way to me.  We have these three major holidays-

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve have become mini holidays too.

And when Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on the weekend, Friday or Monday will be a holiday for many people.

First we had Black Friday. Then they added Cyber Monday. Now we also have Giving Tuesday, which I think is the only one that really counts.

beautiful large Christmas tree
Christmas at the Chicago Museum of  Science and Industry

Some people observe the special celebrations of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

In the United States, we observe December 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the day in 1941 the United States entered World War II.  That event changed our country forever, and created my generation, the post-war  Baby Boomers.

The USS Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor Memorial to the USS Arizona

On December 17 , 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their  famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, ushering in the age of air travel, another historical turning point.

aircraft airplane antique classic
Photo by Inge Wallumrød on Pexels.com

The shortest day of the year occurs on December 21, the winter solstice and first day of winter in the northern hemisphere.

light snow on trees and ground

And  there are other special holidays and events observed too.

Besides holidays, other matters demand our time and attention during this season also.

College students face the end of a semester by studying for finals and finishing term papers and projects.

Renewal notices for subscriptions, licenses, and memberships show up in our mailboxes or inboxes.

Charities offer us one final opportunity to make  tax-deductible donations.

Patients call their doctor’s, dentist’s or optometrist’s office for that last chance to use medical insurance before the new (and probably higher) deductible kicks in or use medical spending accounts.

red gift boxes
Christmas birthdays can be messy too.

And in the middle of all this, I celebrate my birthday.

Having a  birthday close to Christmas makes both occasions rather messy for you and your family. As my friend ,whose birthday is on New Year’s Day, wrote, “You feel like you get cheated on your Christmas/birthday gifts.”  But  there are perks.

Your neighbors remind you your birthday is coming by hanging lights on their houses and turning them on every evening. (My husband claims that’s not the real reason. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus either.)

You can go to a holiday party and pretend it’s for you.

You can listen to Christmas music on your birthday without seeming weird.

Your husband may hire a limousine to drive you around town looking at holiday lights displays. (No joke.)

boy and woman with birthday cakes
Celebrating a long ago birthday with my son. I don’t know why I had two birthday cakes.

Thank goodness, so far, no one else in my immediate family has chosen to be born or married this month. (Although I was delighted to learn  recently that two  distant cousins also have December birthdays.)

But the best part of any birthday, no matter when you observe it, is reflecting on your life, both the successes and failures, the joys and sorrows, and remembering and reflecting on the people and events that brought you to where you are now.

Birth and death comprise this journey  we call Life. Long ago I recognized that we physicians do not ultimately “save lives” or “prevent death”, but we can sometimes impact the time and circumstances.

A Bible book,  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 addresses the extremes of life in this passage which is often read at funerals or memorials-

For everything there is a season, and a time for

every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

This year I have  celebrated with friends who welcomed new babies into their families. I watched a friend face a disabling illness and death with the same faith, courage, enthusiasm, dignity and humor that he had lived life. I have mourned with his family and others who have lost loved ones this year.

Some people dread birthdays, but I believe  they are  a blessing; I am grateful for another year of life and hope to use whatever time I have left productively.  I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes

“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.”

Buzz Aldrin, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts and second human to step on the moon’s surface , trekked to the South Pole-at 86 years old.

A woman celebrating  her 103rd birthday made the news.  As always, she spent the day at a senior citizen center- as a volunteer!

In January, our country observes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I doubt my birthday will ever be named a holiday, but I hope something I do in life will leave this world a little better.

A birthday creates a new beginning  and so does a new year.  Perhaps we can all use the New Year’s Day holiday  to remember, reflect, renew and recharge our hearts and minds for another season  of life.

Yes, ’tis the season-Merry Christmas, Happy New Year-

and happy birthday, whenever yours may be.

Dr. Aletha

dessert with a lit candle in the middle
I hope your favorite restaurant gives you a complimentary dessert on your birthday.
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Bringing good news

Luke chapter 2, New Living Translation 

 

The Shepherds and Angels

 
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
 
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
 
shepherds raising arms to the sky
Shepherds drawing by Bill Hart
 
 
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.                                         
“I bring you good news that will bring    
great joy to all people.”
 
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The artist- Bill Hart 

The late Bill Hart was a professional artist. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was part of the force which invaded  and liberated  France in 1944. You can read Bill’s story at this link. 

 
 
 
 
 

The composer- George Handel 

These verses from the Bible book Luke  are sung in Handel’s musical  Messiah musical. We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel intended it to be performed at Easter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 “Handel got the lyrics from a preacher named Charles Jennens, who wrote out the whole piece as a collage of Bible verses designed to tell a story about the Messiah.”
 
quoted from wheatwilliams.com
 
According to the Bible, Luke was a physician. George Handel’s father, Georg, was a barber-surgeon.

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

 
 
 
 
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A Simple Christmas book cover
 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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