A Holiday Reminder

John McManamy Health Guide
  • The poem is a rerun from two years ago. The commentary further below is new. Enjoy ...


    Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the place
    Not a thought was racing, not even a trace;
    The meds were all stashed, in the cabinet with care;
    A warning to my neurons, behave and beware.

    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    Something bad was going down, something was the matter.
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Oh crap, not again, not another stupid crash.

    When what to my wandering brain should appear,
    A dude in a sleigh with eight friggin’ reindeer.
    Now Dasher! now Dancer! Please tell me I’m dreaming!

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    On Comet! on Cupid! Time to start screaming!

    To the front of the porch! up against the wall!
    Get 911 here right now, I’m headed for a fall.
    A vision in my head, a harbinger of doom,
    Now dash away! dash away! To the emergency room!

    He was dressed all in rags, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished in ashes and soot.
    He came through the sliding door, in the back entry;
    No way to blame his appearance on a dirty chimney.

    A bundle of stuff he had flung on his back,
    Like a homeless person, with his life in a sack.
    I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present, he said in my home.
    Dude, I replied, you got the wrong poem.

    His eyes - they were hollow, his skin a sickly yellow.
    His mouth it trembled, like a defeated fellow;
    A stump of a smoke he held tight in his teeth,
    Looked like he hadn’t eaten anything in a week.

    My old lady was upstairs, zonked out on her meds;
    My kids were in the next room, asleep in their beds.
    Only one thing to do, very plain to see,
    Time to call 911, protect my family.

    I put down the phone, in spite of myself,
    Something in my brain, maybe an elf.
    Set yourself down, I said, You’re in the right poem,
    I’ll see what’s in the fridge, make yourself at home.

    His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
    You got that part right, he told me, very very very!
    No matter how much we have, how much we own,
    We’re all of us homeless, till we find the right poem.

    And laying a finger, alongside of his ear,
    And, giving a nod, he was no longer here.
    Was it a dream? Was it psychosis?
    Does my doc need to up my meds, on even higher doses?

    But the feeling was real, a peace I had never known;
    I was in the right place, in the right poem.
    And I heard him exclaim, in a voice that was my own,
    “Check what’s inside the fridge. You have found yourself a home.”




    Modern science is validating ancient wisdom: It is way better to give than to receive. Those who are generous in spirit and deed, who exercise loving kindness, who put smiles on the faces of others, experience far greater - and longer-lasting - happiness than those who seek self-gain.


    It's too easy to lose track. We have our own needs. We have our own obligations and responsibilities. There is never enough time. Our illness adds an extra burden: It's a scary world out there. We typically have to negotiate our way in a hostile environment, impoverished and alone, with our brains running at less than full capacity.


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    It is very easy for our moods to head south this time of year. The weather turns foul. People are too busy to spend time with us. There are too many reminders that we are not like the rest of the world. Maybe we are the underachieving family member. Maybe we do our best, but it's never good enough to please the people who matter to us. Maybe we're all suited up and ready to play, but no one is hiring, no one is returning our messages.


    Just once, God, we ask in humble voices. Just once - a break. But God doesn't appear to be listening. Neither does Santa.


    Now is the time to reach deep. Be your own Santa. If you are the one in need, accept someone else's giving with a generous spirit - this puts you in the role of the giver. You will be happy making the giver happy. Otherwise, no matter how humble your circumstances, how deep your pain, plan to be the giver. Then, you will find yourself in the right poem.


    A happy - and giving - holiday season to all of you.

Published On: December 04, 2010