I was off work yesterday and today.  I planned it, because it was time for the Oktoberfest in the town of Walhalla, SC.  It’s a tradition my family always honors.  Since we moved to this area, heck, even when we interviewed, Oktoberfest was, and has remained, a delight.  Sure, there are always Euro-purists who complain that it isn’t the same as Oktoberfest in Germany.  No kidding!  It’s been diluted by 150 years of South Appalachian Culture!  (I’ll bet the ones in Germany don’t have a booth manned by the Cherokee Nation, fried Twinkies or Southern Funnel Cakes.)  But what matters is that it is a cool, Autumn evening, with music playing, children holding the hands of their parents, good food, over-priced carnival rides, smiling but scary carnival workers and the rapid flow of money from wallets to points unknown.

Oktoberfest in the sunshine

Oktoberfest in the sunshine

Oktoberfest makes my children giddy with delight.  It’s a time my wife and I can hold hands and see people we rarely see in public.  It’s a time we can mutually, knowingly, intentionally, unite in indulging our children.  We’ve rather measured their growth at the event; not so many years ago, they road tiny trains shaped like caterpillars and thought it fantastic.  Now, they check their hair and outfits, eat endlessly and only ride things capable of inducing vertigo and vomiting.  Ah, times change!

This year it rained, and rained and rained.  We met dear friends, who spent yesterday and today with our family, and all of us (brothers and sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces and God-daughter included), waded through ankle-deep mud last night, and today we walked through the town of Walhalla in a steady drizzle.  Not so good for business, but it’s still delightful to see folks who were sweating in endless August a few weeks ago, now huddled by heaters and wearing sweatshirts.

Tonight, we ate pizza and I took a rare mid-day nap.   I played X-Box with my boys.  My wife and daughter are watching the Hannah Montana Movie.  It’s still cool and wet outside.  Obviously, I’m not at work.  And I feel calm and rested.

That’s my point.  I’ve been fatigued and stressed lately.  I have been missing my family-time.  It leaves me lonely, annoyed, angry and frustrated.  Far, far more than any difficulty of patient-care, rules or regulations; far more than drug seekers, billing problems or health-care reform.  When I miss the people I love, when I am separate from my lovely wife and children,  I feel compromised.  When I am with them, I feel happy, rested, calm.

A great deal of our miseries could probably be cured with a simple prescription.  More time spent resting, sitting, talking, laughing, even working around the house with the ones we pledged to love and the ones we brought into the world to nurture, with the families who nurtured us and with the friends who supported us in our trials.

There it is:

Rx: Time off with loved ones

Sig:  Apply liberally and frequently

Disp:  As much as patient can afford, then a little more that he or she can’t

Refills:  You bet

Happy Oktoberfest!  Sleep well under warm blankets.  Kiss your children good-night.  And God bless you beyond your wildest, fall-colored dreams.


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