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Strength through Holidays

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Except to the most jaded and cynical of people, there's always something, at least a twinge, sentimental about this time of the year. A bit of an irony, really, since these are the months of cold sunshine, dry hands, waiting for the hot water to become hot, short days. But then there is everything else to compensate. Perhaps it's the streets of downtown, lined with bedecked trees, the lights showing just how verdant the clipped branches are. Perhaps it's the shop windows, the usual grime and dust swiped clean, twinkling with the colors of the holidays. Perhaps it's the music, carols softly ebbing through the mellow lights of department stores or joyously played in the florescent-lit Wal-Marts and Targets, until we ourselves can't help but hum a few notes. Or maybe it's everything, even the brisk, icy weather. It's this ability to make winter synonymous with holidays that has transformed the harshest season of the year into a metaphor representing warmth and goodwill. Maybe ability isn't the right word to describe it, but rather, strength.

This strength is a testimony to humanity, to how versatile we are, to how we not only adapt, but better. It may not be an individual virtue, but on a large, collaborative scale, there is no denying it. We may have wars, we may have...a mess, for lack of a better word... right now, but when the holidays roll around, it is evidence that we still have the power to unite, even if only with our countrymen.

I see this same strength at City of Hope every week. It does not take a gust of cold air to make the patients push back, to force the doctors to conquer, to nudge the nurses into action against bleak nature. All it takes is will. I have volunteered for almost three and a half months now, and although there are some days where business is slow, and I'm completely bored out of my mind, I don't ever regret saying, “See you next week.” The cynic may say, “It's only because you're getting hours,” and sure, I won't deny that that is a commodity, but honestly, I now come to see the best of humanity at work. I've learned that the best of humanity is not the constantly smiling doctor or ever-gracious patient of glassy TV screens, but rather the best of humanity is that Dr. So-and-So, who may not have a perpetual expression of sympathy, but is always talking on the phone or to a nurse, consulting and concluding for the sake of someone else. And Nurse Something-or-Another, who may not be the angelic vision straight out of some Hollywood film, but she (or he) is constantly administering aid, however menial the task may sometimes seem. And patient 99 may not be the cheeriest of people, but he knows, knows about the efforts that are being put in, even if his face says otherwise. It's what's keeping him from lashing out and refusing to cooperate.

This is what being the “best of humanity” is about. This is what being human means.





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