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January 5, 2011 / DennisT

What Children Really Deserve at Christmas

A recent Boston Globe article described a particularly vile crime that occurred in Boston last week.  A week or so before Christmas in the middle of the night thieves broke into a crate used to store toys for the charity organization “Toys for Tots” and stole thousands of dollars worth of toys that were destined to be placed under the trees of some of Massachusetts ’ most disadvantaged children.

The irony and timing of this horrendous deed brought more attention than most mere robberies get. One woman that donated to replace the toy’s commented in the Globe article that “Every kid deserves a Christmas.” In an effort to replace the stolen goods, donations have poured in from across the state.

On the day of the world’s most important and symbolically rich holiday, these comments invite consideration about what children really deserve, what Christmas has become and what Christ really stood for. As a Christian, a former residential counselor at the Italian Home for Children, a former social worker for Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and at present a resident physician, I have worked hands on throughout my life with literally hundreds upon hundreds of our society’s most disadvantaged families. In this experience I have seen first hand the horrible adversity that these families face.

Children in these families are forced to overcome social injustice and physical, psychological, developmental and intellectual disabilities that often begin in early childhood or in utero and haunt them for life. Some will overcome the long odds facing them but many in adulthood will become our poor, our disadvantaged, our criminals and our physically and mentally sick. I was stricken at how quick people were to replace stolen toys on Christmas but at how reluctant many people are to give their time, energy and compassion to the disadvantaged the rest of the year.

Jesus Christ changed the course of human history because he preached a message of love, forgiveness, understanding and social justice that resonated to humanity in a desperate and harsh time. It has been over two thousand years since Jesus Christ was crucified by the Roman Empire because he taught this to the ancient world. Two millenia after his death the world that the children who open those toys on Christmas morning will live in is still a place of horrible inequality, lack of compassion, misunderstanding and social injustice.

It is fun to give and receive gifts and I myself literally spent hundreds and hundreds buying gifts for family but when I read those comments I could not help but see that they were as ironic as the deed that brought them on.

The message of Christ was not about lavishing objects upon each other for one day. As wrong as it was for the thieves to steal these toys, it is hardly the biggest adversity impoverished children and families face. I commend those who gave their hard earned money to replace the toys but what our impoverished need is love, kindness, support, understanding and social justice year round. My experience has taught me that as a culture we are severely lacking in this domain. At Christmastime we should remember the best thing we can do for the unfortunate is to do what we can to make a world where Christ’s core message and social justice are the gift we give year round.

 

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October 27, 2010 / DennisT

A blog of all things medicine, health care, public health and single life as a medicine intern

 
Hello my name is Dennis.  I am a medicine intern with a passion for important issues in medicine and health care.  I decided to start this blog to write about the things that I find interesting in the medical world. 
  
I am also single and I figured I could add some writing about what life is like as a single medicine intern trying to balance work, dating and friends. 
  
I thought my first entry would be a good chance for me to talk a little about who I am and my personal life .  So here is my first entry hope youl ike it.
 
 
 
American men are not supposed to be concerned about being single and on the wrong side of 30. 
 
In our culture fears around this topic are supposed to be reserved for females. It is common to assume that in the face of the beginning of the end of their reproductive potential and the reality of an ever dwindling supply of eggs that American woman begin to feel the ticking of their biological clock around this time.  Men are supposed to be confident and comfortable as they navigate their way through the hills and valley’s of single life, hoping to find that ever elusive love connection but with decades of virility waiting ahead of them.
  
As a 32 year old intern in internal medicine I do not have the thunderous boom of my own biological clock ticking in the background of my life like my female counterparts do, but I would be lying if I denied feeling a little uneasy as I slowly but surely creep closer to my mid 30’s unhitched and balancing the rigors of internship with desires for a personal life.  After all,  I never planned to be single at this point in my life but much like the current economic crisis it just sort of subtly happened over the last decade.
 
The major problem with being single in your fourth decade of life (God, that sounds horrible) is that at this point most of the best catches are spoken for. When I look back to the blur that was my early twenties it seems like single, attractive, intelligent females were everywhere. Now the more time passes the more I feel like I am in the land of misfit toys in the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cartoon. It is like “oh, she is kind of cute…….but she has a defective spring” or “hey that girl is great…..but she is wanted in 3 states for larceny.”

 

The fact is most of the woman who interest me are spoken for and the one‘s left are carrying some baggage.   And yes it is still a little soon for me to pick from the remains of the first wave of divorces from those brave souls who got married in their early and middle twenties (which I must confess I am eagerly anticipating). 
 
Of course I too am not without my own defects/baggage. For starters I was supposed to get married a few years ago but that little hiccup can be filed with Michael Jackson’s victory tour, New Coke, and Neville Chamberlains pre-WW2 strategy of appeasement of Germany among history’s all time blunders.  I did learn a lot from that experience however.  The most important lesson is that I learned  if she ever takes the ring off DO NOT give it back. That little hiccup of transient optimism in the face of all rationality still haunts me with every direct deposit to the credit union.
 
I too have a nice dossier of imperfections, both physical and emotional, that most certainly will deter many, many potential mates.  My hope is that in time any partner who I ultimately reach an accord with would grow desensitized to these flaws and perhaps even learn to appreciate them in a strange, begrudging way. Sort of like the way one appreciates a visit to the dentist.
Internship has both it’s moments of suffering but also it’s moments of euphoria (and not just when the nurses leave the drug cabinet unlocked…..Morphine anyone?).  I am learning all kinds of amazing things on my internship.  For example: apparently there is a 5 in the morning too (which is amazing I never knew that before).  One thing that is for sure is at times it is all encompassing. The odds of me finding the time to meet someone and also cultivate a meaningful relationship this year are long at best.  The plus side is that I can lure in potential ladies by offering free medical advice on dates (you got what in Cancun? Where‘s my prescription pad!)
 

 

 
Another plus: I am a seasoned veteran of the dating scene at this point. Maybe my looks aren’t what they used to be, but I am savy now. I am like a wiley veteran baseball pitcher whose fastball has waned but whose increased control and understanding of the game has made him an overall better pitcher. In fact I have enough experience at this point to safely predict how most dating relationships will likely go.
 

 

It usually starts when I meet someone who I rate somewhere between “mildy non-repulsive” and“knock my socks off” on the likeability scale. If I don’t say anything too weird when I first meet her (mental note: save the classic story about the friend who did the nude headstand and made the stick of butter disappear for a later time) we may exchange numbers or friend each other on Facebook to meet up for a drink. The initial hope is that neither one of us like the other one too much because if one of us likes the other one too much it will end up freaking out the other person and that will be the end of it.

That is usually the best case scenario and will likely open the door to future dates. If those go well we can get to the old “come over to watch a movie” date, which is a big step in any relationship. That is when the magic usually happens, all with Adam Sandler’s latest piece of garbage film playing On Demand in the background. From there it will be like a fairy tale. We will be arguing about DJs within weeks.

Or at least that is the hope. The truth is that somewhere between meeting potential mates and selecting floral arrangements pretty much all of my relationships have gotten derailed. Unlike most woman I don’t have to worry about losing my reproductive potential for a long time, but I do worry that time is passing me by as I slog away in a hospital fantasizing about nursing students who wouldn‘t even give me a second look. Men aren’t supposed to be nervous about being single in their 30’s, but I will admit it: I kind of am.

You got what in Cancun? Get me my prescription pad. Can we schedule a follow up date in 10-14 days?

 

The added difficulty I face is that Internship has left me with plenty of weekend shifts and a crunch for time.  At this point I have given up on the sweaty, crowded, moron-filled dance floors of the bar/club scene as a source of potential partners. It has been a long and difficult process but I finally just had to accept the fact that as 6’3” 220 lb Caucasian male with a size 14 foot that no matter how many Shakira videos I watched I would never be able to dance. And besides all those dimly witted, insensate Snooki “wannabes” just don’t do it for me anymore.

I do maintain an active profile on match.com but I must confess to growing wary of that as well. If I have to read another profile that features an “outgoing, adventerous” Boston College grad trying to attract her “partner in crime” with a picture of herself as a bridesmaid I may literally puke on my keyboard.  Oh yes and a little free advice for those who still have faith in the internet dating system be forewarned wedding pictures always lie: that is the best that person has ever looked.