It is a most uncommon Christmas for me this year. I’m living among boxes because of a recent move so cooking a Christmas dinner was not an option. I’m a lot further away from the friends where I usually spend Christmas, yet I need to spend part of the day with my Mom who is in a rehab facility. My son and his family are closer but they have to dedicate part of the day to his in-laws. So what to do when you feel a bit rudderless and need to throw out old customs and create new one. This morning I spent some time, along with my son and grandson, taking toys to La Rabida Children’s Hospital where they care for kids with some of the most challenging health conditions. Santa Claus arrives in a fire truck accompanied by his own personal Chicao Fire Department elves to distribute toys to the youngsters. Today most were infants and toddlers, many too sick to respond to Santa, others a bit afraid of the booming voice of the white bearded man who has been coming to visit the hospital for more than 40 years. The man behind the beard is Paul Mesirow, who made that commitment four decades ago, and continues to deliver on his promise. It is a magical morning and the surprises didn’t stop there.
I met a wonderful nurse named Mary who was caring for an 18 month old with a tracheostomy tube named JR. Mary has been a nurse at La Rabida for 46 years. It’s hard to believe in this instant gratification society, where people change jobs like outfits that someone can remain dedicated to one job, at one place, for so long. And she is engaging an animated and most of all committed.
The afternoon was spent with my Mother and aunt. My Mom has both dementia and Parkinson’s so the conversation is limited but still it's good to have her out and about. Since we’d never gone out for Christmas dinner before it was a bit daunting to find a place open. Alert, there are not as many people working on this day as we’ve been led to suspect. But we did find the standby Greek restaurant with roast turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce.
It was a strange new reality for me, one that makes me both a little happy and a little sad, but people change, things change and that is why life is never boring. What never changes is the reason for the season and that in life it is always good to give more than you take.
Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa.