Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Fever

Wood-burning fireplace with burning log.Image via Wikipedia
I finally succumbed yesterday at about 9.30 in the morning and it came about like this. I'd gotten up fairly early because I needed to drive down to New Hampshire for a follow-up eye appointment -- my contact lenses are fitting and working really well, thanks for asking. Before that, however, I had to go into Portland to pick up a turkey at Whole Foods.

When I first got out of the car I noticed a little chill around the back of my neck but didn't pay it a lot of attention because I was in a hurry. Once inside, standing in line with three other early risers at the meat counter, that chilly feeling was more pronounced and I found myself cheerily wishing everyone Happy Thanksgiving.

At the check out counter, things were getting even worse. My energy level rising, I felt as though the clerks were old friends. The very moment I got to my car and opened the trunk, I realized the obvious: I'd come down with a full-blown case of Holiday Fever.

Usually this happens to me around Halloween but sometimes later, depending on the circumstances. First year in medical school I didn't have time to get "sick" until the last couple of days before Christmas. I knew something wasn't right but we were all so inundated with what seemed like forty million exams the holidays were like a blip on the radar screen easily dismissed as a flock of seagulls. This year there's been the book, studying for boards, and trying not to worry about rotations, but I guess my resistance is low, because I've got it now.

What are the signs and symptoms of Holiday Fever? First, you want to smile nearly all the time. And then you start telling everyone you meet, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah. Scanning the radio stations in the car you realize you're looking for holiday music. When you see little kids, your eyes fill as images of wonder and merriment fill your head. If you're like me, you think about baking and begin watching for the first snow fall.

Not everyone is susceptible and for some, pain dampens the slightest flicker of joy. When you've been down that road you want to help those who can't seem to miss the turn. That's one of the best things about this time of year. It can make us more generous, more caring, more aware of how very tenuous blessing can be and how fortunate we are when we experience it.

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