Today, along with millions of other Americans, I made a last minute dash to the mall. Since Hanukah fell most improbably on Thanksgiving this year, and since I was too busy burning the turkey and side dishes to burn candles, we decided to celebrate Christmas instead. It will be a small celebration—my daughter is on call during her internship in Boston, and my older son works for the State Department in Washington, DC. Apparently world crises do not stop for Christmas, or any other holidays for that matter. So it will be a small crowd around the table—just my youngest son, my 88 year old father, and my husband and me. Who was it that said, “As we grow older, our Christmas list gets smaller as we realize the things we really want can’t be bought”?
I had already taken care of gifts for the rest of the family, but the motivation that drove me to the mall today was the question of what to get for Dad. He’s been very generous with me lately, helping shoulder the bill for the massive relandscaping project, and helping my daughter pay off her medical school loans. What does one give a (mostly) retired plastic surgeon who has already traveled to the far corners of the earth, who has driven fast cars (and instilled a love of them in me, his daughter), and who has spent the last year trying to pare DOWN his earthly possessions from the contents of two residences in Snowmass, CO and Houston, TX. What he wants, I can’t give him—the ability to play tennis and golf and to ski again, the ability to live at altitude without oxygen, the ability to regain his hearing, lost after a car accident, and a loving companion to keep him company as the years wear on. Unfortunately magic is not in my repertoire.
In the end, I spent a rather aimless two hours wandering through the maze of stores, rejecting fancy cufflinks, smelly colognes, silk ties, comfy slippers and expensive watches. I hesitated at Brookstone—there was a mini projector and a tripod which would enable PowerPoint presentations and the exhibition of literally thousands of slides, now converted to digital, of patients whose physical imperfections had been corrected long ago but whose emotional scars might linger on. In the end, I rejected the set up as too complicated—another technology to learn and forget. I bought a few small things, and got back in the car. As I neared home, I stopped in the local liquor store and bought him a nice bottle of Tanqueray and a perfect lime—his favorites. What do we all really want for Christmas? We want the health and happiness of our loved ones, and also, for me, my patients.
All I really want for Christmas is you—all of you. I hope you all have a wonderful day.