Friday, December 22, 2006

Tis the Season

Today at our health center, the annual Community Christmas Party is held. One of the doctors, dressed as Santa, sits in one of the nurses' stations in a big red chair, surrounded by medical assistants and nurses dressed as elves. Hundreds of neighborhood children line up with their parents to sit on Santa's lap and receive an age-appropriate gift which has been lovingly wrapped by clinic staff over the last few weeks. Donations of toys pour in, and the wrapping paper and preparations take over several rooms from December 1st until today. Music plays in the lobby, food and drink are for the asking, and the health center gives back to the community yet again, this time with cheer, gifts, Polaroids of each child, and a spirit of giving that permeates the air.

Across the park at the Senior Center yesterday, my wife was involved in a toy distribution project which gives age-appropriate gifts to local grandparents, ensuring that each elder has at least one toy for each of their grandchildren.

Privately, Mary and I are raising money for a Jamaican friend who is trying to finish building his humble home before the winter rainy season begins. This disabled gentleman, a talented artist with Post-Polio Syndrome, helped us to repaint and decorate the Children's Ward of a poor rural hospital in eastern Jamaica when we were doing community development work with Global Children back at the turn of the century. Although our project has since ended, we continue to support this one person in improving his life, and we may sponsor him for a three-month visa in 2008. If any of you would like to donate as little as $2, please email me privately.

One of my patients gave me and my wife gifts of perfumes, colognes and other scented products for Christmas. Since we both suffer from Multiple Chemical Senstivity, those gifts needed to be recycled elsewhere. Thus, I dropped them off at our local shelter for families in transition where they will be happily re-gifted.

As this season of open-heartedness comes to a close, the giving and openness to others must continue to be propagated and expanded upon throughout the year. While I will always applaud the acts of generosity engendered by the spirit of the season, I urge us all to continue that practice, even as the memories of the holidays fade.

The redistribution of wealth and prosperity certainly has a place at this time of year, as conspicuous consumption becomes the order of the day. Still, conspicuous consumption is part and parcel of the American Way, therefore conspicuous deconstruction of the consumer society must continue unabated.

To all who give to others, sincere thanks. To all who live their lives in love and compassion, my heartfelt solidarity. To all those who are yet to open their hearts just a little bit more, there is no better time than now.
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