Christmas Season ’tis Here…AlrEAdY?!?!?!

It never ceases to amaze me how time seems to, with each passing day, sprint by even faster than the day before. Really? It’s already time to start preparing for Christmas? It felt like it was only yesterday when I was getting off the plane from Japan, when I climbed out of the car after the long, north-ward drive from Alabamian boot camp, and when we were all fantasizing about Thanksgiving, tasty turkey, and heavenly pumpkin pie slices! I just got back from an entire week off – 5 days of 0 school – and yet it all seemed to evaporate, and I got a total of 6 things scratched off of my extremely long 20+ item to-do-over-fall-break list (with some items as carry-over from my summer to-do list!).

But I can’t really complain – its so exciting! The Christmas music, the anticipation of MORE days off of school, the coming of time to just worship and be with family! And all I have to do is get through three more weeks from school – should be a piece of cake right?!?

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Life lately certainly has been cutting me its share of breaks: school’s work load is much MUCH lighter than it was last year (you wouldn’t think it from the number of posts I’ve been writing! Ooops…), I’ve been able to leave school early most Fridays to make my way across the state to be with the hubby and the family and friends – sometimes I’m even in time to have lunch with one of them! I’ve had the GLORIOUS opportunity to once again make my pilgrimage to North Carolina this fall, journeying this time by myself to see my awesome college friend, Stace, who is now studying crazy hard to get her masters degree in that sunshiny state.

And we went zip-lining!

And we went zip-lining!

My new roomy, whom I moved in with this August, is a vibrant, almost to my equal in craziness, full of thrilling, joyful, hilarious, tragic, and deep stories acquired from her many previous lives as a young girl in Africa, raising her kids in Cali, and working the night shifts as a nurse. Lord only knows why she’s come from afar to be in cold Ohio-school-land for 4 long years of medical school when she already knows and does so much with medicine, but boy am I blessed to have her as a roomy! Occasionally we sympathize together, whine about being away from home and family or talk about husbands and such. When I have a question about a certain confusing topic in school or when I just need to clarify something – she’s always more than happy to be there for me; she’s even taken care of me when I had what must have been my worst migraine ever!

celebrating her birthday :)

Celebrating her birthday! Same weekend as our anniversary!

To top this all off, Anne, the eldest among the sibs, is…… PREGNANT!!! Words can’t describe my joy! And, not only will I be free from school around the time of the baby’s due date, but I shall be stuck in the same local area, forced to not travel, planted in study mode in the advent of board exams that are scheduled just after the baby’s due date. Therefore, I shall be there awaiting, and most likely be present for the glorious birthingday, and most likely get to spend a few weeks with the little baby before having to go back to school. The timing is PERFECT!

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I happily sat down this evening, about 20 minutes post-slog (slow+jog=slog), full of motivation to pipe through some of those things left stagnant on that old to-do list along with the afresh items from today. I put on some of that good old Lindsey Sterling youtube music – man that girl is inspiring! Dancing and playing violin!

I first heard about her via a friend who shared a link to her piece, “spontaneous me,” on my facebook wall. I opened it and was instantly mesmerized! Within the link, was a fun, full of frolickings music video which she had skillfully, but seemingly effortlessly choreographed, taking place most memorably at a playground with wide open blue skies, and little Lindsey dancing around with that violin of hers. It was beautiful!

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Oh I want to be just like Lindsey, dancing around while playing out some exotic crazy song from my flute, but FIRST, I have to get through med school. One. Night. At. A. Time. But alas, I found that as I listened to her hip beats pumping up through my little laptop’s speakers, my energy was made far less focused on school than I had hoped. I sat there re-reading the endocarditis outline on Firecracker, (the review site that had conned me into spending yet another $100 or so on board prep materials) my eyes began to glaze. I had been studying the same paragraph for the past 10 minutes – pretty sure I was going at the speed of oozing molasses.

Maaaybe it was because I was, from time to time, like maybe every 5 seconds or so, clicking over to my email, or to web pages open to cyber monday deals; half the time, it was one that led to the other (advertisements – why must you torment me?!… I can only be so strong! I can only bring myself to delete the first 90 emails from Victoria’s Secret, TJ Max, or Michael’s… to name a few). And of course I had my usual issues – getting hung up on little details like Chagas disease – I was studying cardiomyopathy, but it was somehow associated with Chagas and I could NOT remember why: I tried to remember it and how exactly it was related to this dilated cardiomyopathy. I gave in eventually and googled the topic. I ended up lost in wikipidia. Finally, I found myself returning 5 or 10 minutes later to my page in the Firecracker cardiomyopathy study guide. Next, I got stuck on a detail that made no sense to me – brain just sayin’ WILL NOT COMPUTE!! Over and over I read this confusing statement on the study guide for endocarditis that said the tricuspid valve is the valve most often damaged in endocarditis…huh? What about rheumatic fever and mitral vavle damage? … so of course I had to dig up at least 3 different other review sources, (Pathoma, Goljian’s, First Aid) none of which would refute or validate this fact stated in the Firecracker study guide, unless I missed it. Why is the answer so unclear?! I just want to know if my Firecracker study guide is wrong! Ugh…  I had another 10 or so new emails, so I checked them, then, half reluctantly, half simply forgetfully, I gave up on digging any further on the topic of mitral valves in endocarditis and proceeded down the study guide. After an hour or so of this painfully slow progression, I had to surrender to my ADHD and start writing; it’s really the only compatible activity (besides facebook stalking) to do when you’ve had less than 5 hours of sleep and just ate dinner (mmm eggs), you’ll have to forgive my nonsense in this post!

My facilitator recently told me that I think in a rather scattered way; I don’t know what she’s talking about.

So, Christmas is coming! With this sweet, fantastic occasion comes the inevitable stress of procuring presents of insurmountable worth for all of one’s closest most beloved of fellow man kind. I can’t take it! I told my family that I wasn’t buying Christmas presents for them this year so don’t get me anything! That didn’t go so well. My mom gave me a rather unimpressed look and informed me that she thence expected to be getting an even awesomer birthday present; Anne sighed and stated that she had already procured a Christmas present for me (I should have known, she always seems to have present schemes drawn out at least 6 months ahead of time!); Dad laughed dryly, “I’m SURE you are.” … he’s just jaded from years of trying and failing to do the “no presents for Christmas” thing. Alas I must admit, I have already failed at resisting present buying.

Dad’s disillusionment was rightly placed… but how can I refuse to get my beloved ones presents if, on Christmas day, love means giving them stuff!? I gave in slowly – at first I told myself that I would get my family presents – but all presents would be home made and I would make most of them over thanksgiving break… well it’s after break and I can tell you that idea most certainly didn’t happen. Now its cyber Monday and I’m sending my poor hubby dozens of paragraph-long texts trying to plot out the presents. I hate it but can’t keep from it! Half of his family has already sent out actual wish lists, how can I show up to celebrate Christmas with his family with nothing to give in exchange for the gifts that they will surely be reaching over to hand me? I sent out our wish list in relpy, “we are going light on Christmas present shopping this year – too focused on the studies, but if you must have a wish list from us – know that I like Starbucks and James likes amazon!” Guilt consumes me as I think of the cliche “starving children in Africa” motif / the ones starving or freezing just down the street from me in my warm apartment, as I visualize my  opening a $30 gift card for Starbucks, or my frantic last minute Christmas shopping the week before Christmas day, throwing money at anything that looks remotely pleasing to wrap and give to the target family member/friend. Ahhhh!!

maybe I'm just not gifting smart enough...

maybe I’m just not gifting smart enough…

Maybe someday I will have more time for Christmas present making and I’ll get my wish and just hand make all the Christmas presents for my friends and family! As for now, I still don’t have an answer to this confounding of the purpose of Christmas with gift giving and the high expectations. In my perfect little hypothetical world, people don’t live through the days leading up the Christmas feeling pressured to find and wrap the perfect material gifts on Christmas day, but instead just sing and dance and celebrate together in awesome joy for the One who came to save us!

...and they will all feast on my diet jello!

…and they will all feast on my 3-layer diet jello!

And at the same time, I know I was spoiled as a child and was given a great many material presents every year on Christmas day! Susan, that cool new roomy of mine, told me that one year for Christmas she had her kids go shopping, buy, and wrap up beautiful presents, and then she told them the presents were not for themselves, but instead for children in need. She said that they all gave her a fit for this great misdeed, but they saw the good in it in the end. Maaaaaaybe… the moral of this story is that I need to train my kids to expect NOTHING wrapped up to open up on Christmas day. Ahhh I’m going to be such a crazy insane mom!

Anyway, I have rambled quite enough, I hope this blog post gives y’all something to ponder, and if anyone knows the explanation to the tricuspid valve thing… do share! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Christmas Season ’tis Here…AlrEAdY?!?!?!

  1. Art casci says:

    As I said before, you can scratch me off your list. Support my friends in Haiti. They are recovering from a very bad flood. If tha is guilt so be it. Guilt is not always a bad thing. The law convicts of sin and our over consumption is sin and I include myself in the over consumer group.
    Dad

  2. Art Casci says:

    I must add that guilt that is driven by the Law drives us to Christ and the forgiveness of sins. We will always be dealing with the guilt of living in such a wealthy pampered society but guess what those who “have not” also deal with the desire to “have”. Covetousness is deep in the old sinner. The flesh will always be at war with the Spirit and we engage in the battle armed with Christ and the Holy Spirit. To not engage in the struggle is the only way to lose for it means you just don’t care about the struggle and give in to a life driven by the desire to consume.

  3. Joseph says:

    I think there is a need for balance. Getting a present for a family member for Christmas is not an inherent evil. Allowing consumerism to run Christmas is, clearly, a problem. Anne and I try to select small, mostly-useful things for y’all (Alabama heritage talking there) as gifts. (Note that nowhere in the definition of gift is this expectation of reciprocation. Taken to the extreme, we give significant monetary gifts to Hati with no expectation of return.) Actually, in many of those cases, those purchases directly support the livelihood of, for example, a street vendor. (We’ve spent a lot of time in outdoor markets). They too have families to cloth and feed. Heck, even the counter workers at Starbucks need to eat.

    Now, please don’t take the to imply that I am opposed to charitable giving. It is certainly a worthy cause, especially support a sister congregation (or w/e you call them) in Haiti. And if the gift someone wants is a donation made on their behalf, I understand that too, and that is certainly admirable.

    It’s also why for the last three? four? years Anne has converted our kitchen into Buckeye central. Time and materials are converted to a product, which is sold for money (and often then given as a gift) and the money becomes a gift for Haiti. That whole scheme relies, to some extent, on consumerism to work. If no one bought buckeyes, then Anne’s time in making them could not help support Haiti.

    Ultimately, I contend that gift giving is not the inherent problem here, but rather the feeling it is a requirement in order to make a successful holiday. I find the following balance useful: God first, family second. Let gifts be just that, gifts.

  4. Joseph says:

    One other thought. First thing Christmas morning: Church or presents? I prefer church (not always easy to remember that when its cold and dark). I suppose it’s sort of silly, but organize the day in order of tasks that are important? Church -> meal with family -> gifts…even when Anne and I would go to both house for Christmas, we would typically eat at my parent’s house as a family before exchanging gifts. Okay, I’m done trying to sound smart.

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