Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. This will just be a short post about being “Home for the Holidays“.
Home for the Holidays?
I just dawned on me that for a long time I haven’t really had a “home”. I went to the Caribbean for medical school, then I spent 2 years of clinical rotations back in California (but not close to home). After matching into intern year and residency, I was in New York for 5 years. Then I did fellowship in Maryland for a year. Following the end of training, I had my first job in Rhode Island before moving to Hawaii.
So what does that all mean? Well it means I haven’t really had a “home for the holidays” since probably college. I mean, I’ve come back to my parent’s house since then of course, but that wasn’t really my “home” anymore.
Even when we first moved to Hawaii and lived in a condo for two years, that wasn’t really home. It was just a place we were living, which we all knew would be temporary.
Then when we bought our first house, that first year my daughter wanted to stick with our little tree and I didn’t have time to get the Christmas lights up. It was our first Christmas in the house, but it didn’t feel quite like home, at least not yet.
It’s been almost 3 years since we bought the house now.
This is the first year where I’ve been able to get the Christmas lights up. We now have a nice (fake) Christmas tree, which we got a for a good price. The kids are old enough to help decorate the tree.
Our 2nd year in the house, I had to work the week of Christmas. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad because I was able to be awake early to watch the kids open their presents. However, it doesn’t carry quite the same feeling as waking up knowing you have no responsibilities for the day.
This year I can wake up, watch the kids open their presents, and watch them enjoy their gifts all day. Perhaps I’ll even pour myself a little glass of Johnnie Walker or Macallan and relax.
Why this post now?
Well, it’s kind of funny. I have two very good friends from high school who will be in Hawaii for Christmas time. One of them is military and was stationed here for a few years, so both he and his in-laws own property here. Most likely I’ll still see them once in awhile. However, my other friend, who I’ve known since I was 3, has since left California and moved to Texas for work. I probably won’t get to see him too much anymore. He’s only coming out to Hawaii to visit Oahu and Maui as part of a delayed honeymoon, since he had to cut his short for work.
These old friends being in town for Christmas made me reflect on my life a little bit and realize just how much time has passed. We’re all married now. I have two kids, my military friend has 1, and the Texas friend recently was married. I imagine their first child will be on the way in the next few years.
Looking back on how we were in high school, I guess we somehow managed to grow up and mature over the years. Overall, we didn’t do too bad for some kids who got in trouble in Spanish class all the time.
It was then it dawned on me that I have a place I call home, and it doesn’t feel weird or temporary — it’s permanent, like when I was a kid. It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s real and important.
I think it’s important to remember to turn off your “doctor” for awhile during the times you’re off. Being a doctor is very much a part of our identity, but it’s not all we are.
Remember Mr. Smith and Dr. Jones. It’s ok to be Mr. or Mrs. Smith and not Dr. Jones if you’re not working this holiday season.
That said, if you are the doctor in your family, you can expect to have to give out some free consultations. So then, of course you can turn on Dr. Jones for that period of time, just remember to revert back to Mr. or Mrs. Smith and try to relax.
As physicians we tend to have to work the holiday season for at least part of our careers. For some, it’s only during residency. For others it may be when they are young associates. For me, it’s every other Christmas.
If you’re off this Christmas, try to relax and enjoy your time off.
I’m Home for the Holidays this year.
I think this may be the first time I truly feel “home”, since college.
If you’re off this holiday season, turn off Dr. Jones for awhile.
Life is short. Be happy.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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