I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately. It’s a bad habit.  But my new job is a hybrid. I’m an employee, not a locums. But I go out of town for my job, 3-4 days at a time. Afterwards I have 6 or 7 days off.  And in general, that’s awesome!

However, it’s Christmas.  I love Christmas.  Maybe too much, but it’s just who I am.  And during the season, I want to be with my family as much as possible.  The past few years included a lot of locums work, during which time all I had to say was ‘I won’t work those days.’  It was magnificent.  (Even though it makes full-timers crazy when locums workers have holidays off; understandably as they get stuck with the holidays.)

So I’ve been moping about, thinking sad thoughts, wishing I were home.  Playing the ever toxic, ‘what if’ game.  Wondering if I made the right career move, or should have done something different a couple of years ago.  Wondering how many more years our kids would even want to be home with us.  Blah, blah, blah.  All morose and pointless.

At least, that’s what I have come to realize.  So here’s a dose of perspective.  Seeing endless flu victims, and a nonstop parade of the old, weak, dizzy and chest pain afflicted, can be frustrating.  But it’s a job. And a great job.  I help people.  I am compensated well.  I’m not trapped in a cubicle.  Back home, my wife is safe (and seven years out from the cancer that afflicted her so harshly in  2010/11.)

Our kids are growing up. This happens.  But they’re safe and sound. We see them frequently.  The two in college are home for break.  They’re awesome, each and every one of them.  Do I wish I were there? Sure.  On the other hand, they’re so busy doing their own thing that I probably wouldn’t see them much anyway.

I do miss lying in bed with Jan, feeling her foot by mine in the night, holding her hand as we drift off.  Watching TV together, planning, working around the house, going to the gym, playing HALO (her favorite!) on the X-Box.  But as I write this, I’m 24 hours from all of that; after tomorrow’s shift I’m out the door.

The thing is, all around the world men and women are separated from their loved ones.  Some by work, some by work that amounts to slave labor, conducted in cruel, dangerous conditions with next to no reward.  Too many will never see home again.

All around the globe men and women spend Christmas in prison. Some for the rest of their lives.  Some are beaten and abused in prison, or in detention camps, or education camps as in the case of garden spots like North Korea and Cuba.

In many theaters of conflict, men and women face enemies in combat, or in places of heigtened tensions.  No small number will spend Christmas with their hands gripping rifles rather than opening presents.

In lonely huts, humid tropics, frozen wastelands and modern hospitals, men, women, boys and girls are dying.  Whether or not they celebrate Christmas, this December (this second as I write), they will pass from this life.  They would give anything for my problems.

And wherever there are seniors, the disabled, the chronically ill,  there is loneliness.  There are people longing for other people to come back, or for something, anything, someone, anyone to be attentive. To validate their lives.

I could go on, and so could you.  The point is, Christmas is hard for many people; because life is hard for many people.  Furthermore, Christmas does not need our special attention.  It is the celebration of He who infuses all hardships and troubles with love and hope.  Jesus wasn’t born in a hotel, or even in his family’s home.  He was born far away from all that, in hard conditions, in a time of trouble.

These realizations filled me with peace and gratitude.  My troubles are nothing.  My God is everything.

And Christmas will be wonderful, no matter how I try to ruin it with my whining entitlement.

Perspective is a great gift.  I’m glad this time away the week before Christmas was able to give me a little.

Edwin