"What's your favorite color?" my brother asked me.
I had never been asked that question before, so I had never thought about it. I considered my options: green (everyone's favorite at the time), yellow (somewhat bland), blue (depends on the shade), orange (the color of a fruit? No...), and then came my answer for no apparent reason at the time.
Little did I know my older brother was colluding with my family (and Santa, of course) to decide upon the color of a new bicycle. The ruse was revealed at the end of Christmas morning when I followed a string whose one end had been attached to an ornament through every room in our house. It was only after following it to the dank confines of our basement was the surprise revealed.
Ah, the memories.
But for many, the Christmas season will be far removed from this Utopia. Some will hear the terrified cry if a woman screaming for help after her husband collapses before her. For others will come the wailing cry of a mother who learns her child just died. For others, they will witness the silent tears of a man who learns his certain fate after the diagnosis of cancer. For each of these, the depts of despair will seem insurmountable; the sadness, intolerable.
So as I return to work this week, I count my blessings. For it won't be about the gifts that I receive, but rather the giving that will matter. As health care workers, we are invited to glimpse the inner workings of this complicated, messy story called life, a story that never stops. But in doing this, we are taken backstage to witness not just the frailty of the human body and spirit, but its remarkable strength, too. And while we know we won't be able to save everyone's pain this holiday season, know that we are honored to be given the privilege to try.