FINE — so I am home spending a quiet Christmas eve at home with my dear husband, and reliving the time in extreme youth — would you believe before I started school, meaning not over four or so — when I told my parents that this Santa was a rip off, because there were people in all these suits at the couple of different stores they shopped, nobody could fly like that, lots of folks had no chimneys. Also there was nothing on our roof to designate us as Jewish but he wouldn’t come and whatever.
Often in our house, especially when my grandmother of blessed memory was alive, several things, including Santa, were simply dismissed as things necessary to “goyim,” (non-Jews) and therefore somehow for the inferior or those who were somehow mentally or socially challenged.
One self-styled parenting expert on the net has raised the question whether the Santa Claus myth is good or bad for kids.
He was an urban youth. I could not even determine his racial origin and I had to ask him (county regulations – tracking who it paid for – not my choice). It was mixed, and essentially indeterminate, a regular American melting-pot.
His head was shaved, so I could not make any guesses on the basis of hair type. There were facial tattoos, of the tribal sort, lots of triangles, but nothing as fiercely antisocial as some of the obscene drawings or sayings I had seen tattooed on prison inmates faces. Or in the case before me – ex-cons. And there was one of those little cylinders in his earlobe –the kind that men wear to stretch the open hole in their earlobes large enough to allow passage by a small sparrow. I believe the tradition is for tribal identity to prove something about achievement in the face of pain. It differs according to whom you ask, and this young man was not ripe for asking about that topic.
“I’m depressed. Real depressed.”
I wanted to know why. “I got kids. Seven of them, three different states. The seventh one was born three days ago. I was with the Mommy, and we were really happy because he looks just like me.”
Quite an achievement for someone only 22 years old. However, my congratulations did not bring him solace. “I guess you aren’t feeling too great about it, though, or else you wouldn’t be here, feeling depressed.”
At least he wasn’t suicidal. I could treat him as an outpatient. Read more on Male Postpartum Depression (Yes — MALE!)…
She was twenty four, and beautiful – magazine cover, MTV video beautiful — with long black hair and exotic features. She was telling me about her childhood abuse, her drug abuse, and how she left childhood for pregnancy and married a husband who was in many ways more abusive than her own parents had been with her.
Although the precise details do not matter, this woman gradually revealed herself to be a victim of physical, emotional, and sexual battering so severe that that she actually looked back fondly on her time spent in a variety of foster homes. I rarely hear this. She told about her abuse with a certain flatness of facial expression and vocal tone, a certain acceptance. This is not uncommon in those who have survived a lot of emotional abuse. It is a survival mechanism; a way to put up a wall. I could understand that.
She was actually a fairly reasonable person to interview. She did not have many holes in her memory and managed to answer most of my questions with believable facts. I had to ask about her education. She had been doing well in school when she dropped out because of pregnancy. She had not used contraception then, still didn’t. When I asked her, she told me simply that since her family was Christian, such topics were not discussed. Read more on The Harm Done By NOT Providing Sex Education…
All of this balderdash from opponents of so-called “Obamacare” health care reform about “Death Panels” that will come and put your grandparents to sleep like an injured Chihuahua makes me think about the patients I’ve had to counsel regarding end-of-life issues.
I have a wonderful patient who is still struggling, after many years, with her father. He is, like many men of his era who spent a fair amount of time in the military, the kind of guy who speaks little. He has outlived his wife, which is statistically unlikely, for she was very ill for a very long time. He is tired, just plain tired, of medical interventions. He had a hunk of colon taken out some years ago, and there was something somewhere between normal and cancer on it. Who knows when he tells his daughter. Her confusion is expressed to me through tears.
I wanted to re-post this message now that we are starting a new round of articles. The reason is probably obvious — it’s a very personal statement. But also, it was only posted for a few days before we took the blog down to refurbish it. I hope you enjoy this.
The opening sentence of Erich Segal’s novel Love Story asks the question, “What do you say about a girl who died?”
I think of that when I’m going to talk about Harry — my little brother.
We always look forward to this time of year, when the holidays seem to slide down upon us like an avalanche.
The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day are always a special time of year. But once they arrive, we often find outselves stressed-out, depressed — even broke.
Sign up for my newsletter in that cute box on the right and I will send you free of charge my new report 18 Ways To Enjoy The Holidays.
Whether you are having one of those traditional huge family gatherings or if it is just you and a loved one, I’ve got some suggestions to make the holiday season cheery and bright.