Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Doc Bugs and Me

One of my favorite places to shop is anywhere Christmas decorations are sold. When I was growing up, my mother instilled in me a real love for rare, unusual, or antique ornaments. Thanks to her, the drawers of my ornament cabinet contain bells and glass bobbles that date from her childhood before the War (as World War II was known in our house). Over time I've added my own preferences for traditional wooden soldiers, dogs, moose, and cartoon characters, notably Snoopy and Woodstock.

One ornament has special meaning for me -- the one in the photo. I picked up Doc Bugs, as I call him, in a little out of the way place called The Spruce House, in Estes Park, Colorado. It must have been late fall, during my first year of premedical studies, when I found him hanging on a rack all by himself. Lone ornaments are hard to resist, especially if they stir up an emotional connection and you realize leaving the store without them is a mistake. 

Well, Bugs Bunny and I go way back. Tall, wise-cracking, with big feet, like me, he was my favorite cartoon character when I was a kid. Only this time, instead of his trademark carrot, he was holding a stethoscope and smiling as though he knew a secret I didn't. Right off I was certain he'd been "waiting for me" and took it as a sign that someday I'd be in his shoes, or paws, as the case may be. The next year, I came upon another version of the medical bunny, a ceramic Bugs looking rather distinguished in a long white coat holding a hospital record, another portent (except for the "distinguished" part). 

It's funny how, when pursuing a dream, you latch onto things that symbolize its fulfillment to give you hope. I'm not superstitious, but I definitely believe in the power of images to fuel our ambitions and sustain us spiritually. When such things hang on a Christmas tree, itself a very rich symbol of life and new birth, they take on deeper significance. It's as though they participate in all the tree represents and pass it along when we're most in need.

Doc Bugs has done that for me the past fifteen Christmases. Each year, taking him out of his box and hanging him in plain view has been an act of faith and each year I promised myself my time was coming. Last night, bringing Doc Bugs out once more, I said to my long-eared alter ego, "Well, Bugs, this is your first Christmas as a real doctor." It just so happens, it's mine, too.

May you have the most wonderful and joyous of Christmases and the happiest of Holiday Seasons.

(Photo copyright 2013 by the author)
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