This holiday is a season that I approach with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we doctors are kept very busy dealing with the flu epidemic and other health problems. What most people don't realize is that hospitals "shut down" over Christmas. This means that clinics, surgery and other elective services do not function and ill patients overwhelm the institutions. There is a misleading perception that all manner of consultations, minor surgery and tests can be quickly obtained, despite the stores being closed. I think it is reflex conditioning from the last minute Christmas shopping frenzy. It is definitely wiser to see your doctor in the New Year for that referral. My false hope probably stems from seeing longer Santa Claus lines than blood work lines.
Many of my colleagues and I will be working this Christmas. I have the dubious distinction of being the presiding coroner in this neck of the woods. I salute all those who give their time to the service of others to keep the rickety ship afloat. Some of the saddest tragedies always seem to emerge at this time of the year, and most don't even make the back page fine print. Please take care. Don't drink and drive. Let's not meet by accident. Along the same lines, Christmas with its dreary cold weather, short days and induced commercialism seems to bring out a lot of pain and depression in people. Reach out and touch or even hug somebody. It does make a difference despite what you might think. This season of gracious receiving is also a time to discover the joy of what you can do for someone else. Take a chance, ask someone how he or she is doing, use your turn signal, or simply smile!
Canadians of Ukrainian decent and many others celebrate Christmas twice. Once the last minute sales are over, the turkey digested and the presents are opened, a second perspective arrives on January 6th (Christmas Eve). Families converge and unwittingly share inner strengths. It is a solemn meatless feast, celebrating a strong bond with the land, welcoming ancestral spirits and rejuvenating the inner spirit. The transient nature of life in the context of eternity is celebrated. Living trees are blessed, bonds re-established, timeless carols, prayers and wisdom are passed on and store-bought presents mean little. I have come to look forward to this time, as it has a way of renewing my inner spirit, and allows me to reach out and help others do the same. So to all my loyal patients, friends and readers, I thank you for all your support, e-mail and wise words, and wish you the best most re-awakening New Year!
● Christmas Traditions in Ukraine from UA Zone, Ukrainian Information Project.
● Christmas Traditions of Ukraine.
● Ukrainian Christmas - Rizdvo.
● Christmas Customs in Ukraine - Eastern Slovakia, Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn Christmas Traditions.
● Ukrainian Christmas Mass - Video from YouTube, 46 sec.
● Dobry Vechir Toby - Ukrainian Christmas Carol. YouTube video, 2:41 min.