Regardless of how you choose to celebrate this holiday season, I hope that you remain safe, healthy, and joyful. Many people will spend large amounts of time away from their loved ones as they search for that perfect gift. Coretta Scott King once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” On December 25th you may open many gifts, but on December 26th you may also be returning someone’s “perfect gift.”
You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate the beauty of the trees, ornaments, and lights. According to britannica.com, evergreen trees were used by the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. They were symbolic of eternal life and became more extravagant in the 19th century. I want you to remain safe, although 350 people each year are injured in the process of hanging decorative lights. The holiday season can also be tragic due to drunk and or distracted drivers, which account for one in three of the fatal accidents throughout the New Year celebratory time period. I do want you to remain healthy, however, many of you are not healthy currently. The biggest issue with holiday season weight gain is that many people are already above healthy weight ranges prior to the holidays. Lastly, I want you to have joy, but there’s a spike in deaths of all ages except children according to cnn.com/health- “Why do more people die at Christmas, New Year’s?” Thank goodness our joy isn’t dependent upon our circumstances.
I always tell family, friends, and loved ones, “don’t do more talking about me than to me.” For years I would strategically plan my Black Friday shopping with the precision of a Combatant Commander (shout out to my dad who served in the US Army and Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served). On numerous holiday seasons, I would spend precious hours away from loved ones talking about them to perfect strangers, rather than having chosen, “the good part.” My mother in law passed away due to complications from a stroke two days before Thanksgiving in 2020. She never made it to Christmas or her birthday (New Years Eve) that year, but I am thankful that we shared enormous amounts of time together. A lot of that time was spent shopping as well but don’t judge me too harshly, I am a work in progress. Any time spent cultivating those healthy relationships in your life becomes a mutually wise wellness investment. Loneliness and stress bring about a response of additional cortisol (stress hormone) production in your body as stated by webmd.com- “What to Know About Loneliness During the Holidays.” This can cause decreased cognitive function, accelerated aging, and premature death. Not to be morbid, but life is fragile and uncertain at best.
In an appeal to ethos, I have a doctorate in pharmacy and assist people from all walks of life everyday who have a wide range of illnesses or ailments. Some of the diseases are tolerable, some are terminal. In the black community I know there is an apathy for the three V’s. Voting (we have to be enticed), vaccinations (we think they are administered by Jim Jones), and the victim mindset (we take self inventory far too infrequently). Statistics from the mayoclinic.org website article- “Organ donation: Don’t let these myths confuse you,” show that over 100,000 people in America are waiting for an organ transplant, and more than 20 people die daily due to an organ shortage. While blacks are 30% more likely to die from heart disease or stroke than non-Hispanic whites, the Journal of Internal Medicine (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) shows that there is also a huge disparity in the distribution of health resources. Blacks needing a kidney transplant wait an average of 1,335 days, while whites wait roughly 734 days. Is this systemic racism? Possibly, but another key factor is that while 39% of the kidney waiting list is Black (African American), only 23% of deceased donor organs come from Blacks. In a nutshell, compatible blood types are typically necessary for transplants. Long term sustainable success is more common when the donor and recipient have been genetically matched. Some people feel they won’t be offered proper care in an end of life situation because a doctor is salivating over extracting their organs. Yet I know first hand, all doctors take some type of Hippocratic Oath that they wholeheartedly accept. Very few would be willing to put the license they worked decades to obtain, on the line. I am not trying to sell you on becoming an organ donor, but I am asking you to do credible research for yourself and make an intelligible decision (visit organdonor.gov for more information). At your next driver’s license renewal, you could become a donor of body parts you will no longer need, and do a strut out of the Department of Driver Services that would make Daniel Hale WIlliams proud.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.”- Rosa Parks
This holiday season, regardless of what your beliefs are, there may be some feeling of ingratitude or a lack of appreciation. These feelings of inadequacy and or unmet expectations, largely go unnoticed, but then culminate on December 26th. When your “perfect gift” gets returned in exchange for, in your estimation, a lesser gift, it does something to you on the inside that can cut to the core. On our first Christmas together, my husband bought me a beautiful watch. I thanked him for it as I was simultaneously inspecting the packaging to ensure everything was intact for the next day’s customer service exchange. I have a good friend whose husband just received a heart transplant last week. I have another friend whose wife is on the waiting list for a kidney. Both are affluent and Black, and both would not have to think long to determine the greatest gift that has been given to them (or is hoped to be received by them). Whatever you decide to give to someone this year, make it count towards your legacy without jeopardizing your generational wealth. Learn the lost art of saying “no,'' and also avoid placing unnecessary burdens on yourselves with extravagant shopping lists and registries that you either give or intend to receive. Create a personalized playlist, bake something, or gift a subscription to Noire Women’s Wellness magazine to a friend. These are all great offerings for December, that won’t force you to start a GoFundMe in January.