Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I never thought of them as particularly important. Nice to have, certainly, over the holidays. Festive, even. Spode, with the iconic Christmas tree in the center of the plates, bowls, platters. Gaily wrapped presents under the tree. Sprigs of holly scattered about and the green trim along the edges.

The dishes became part of our family Christmas celebrations almost yearly for twenty-eight years. Pulled out of a dark cupboard a week before Christmas, washed and ready to be piled high with roast beef, ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and creamy baked mushrooms. After the New Year, the dishes, scrubbed clean with the Christmas tree shining on porcelain, were put back into the dark cupboard.

The dishes remained constant but time changes family traditions. Children grow up, marry and have children of their own. When these children, our grandchildren, are babies and toddlers, everyone came home, over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. Grandchildren are content to sleep in pac-and-plays and sit in high chairs for the meals. In those twenty-eight years, not a dish was broken

But change is persistent, more babies are born and the first and second born grow into teen-agers. Easier somehow for two grandparents to go over the river and down the turnpike than for families to load up grandchildren who have grown strangely tall and busy.

So this year, the twenty-ninth year, the dishes came out of the dark cupboard, were lovingly wrapped and packed in boxes to take to my daughter for our family get-together on Christmas Eve.

“Does this mean Nana is never having Christmas again?” asked the beautifully inquisitive  daughter of my son. There was a note of sadness in her voice. I realized then how the Christmas tree plates had become a symbol of what is constant even as things change.

“No,” I answered her. “It means we are a family with traditions that can travel without being broken.

We are the family with very important traveling Christmas plates. Wherever Christmas is, the plates will be there. And everything will be intact, unbroken.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


A middle aged man presented to the ER with complaints of new onset intermittent chest discomfort.  I explained everything to him. . .the purpose of the EKG, the chest x-ray, the need for blood work, the standard use of O2 in this situation and the purpose of precautionery IV access.  He listened intently to everything I said.

Finally, I prepared one inch of nitropaste to apply to his anterior chest wall. I told him it was the same thing as the little white nitro pills people with angina used when they experienced chest pain.

He frowned and then said: "Please put it on my arm instead of my chest. I can lick my arm but I can't lick my chest."

Just proves you can have a good laugh at work.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I would rather write with charcoal on the back of a shovel than deal with the stubborn and uncooperative computer turned she-devil. If any writer is reading my blog, please send me your wisdom, patience and prayers. Or better yet, stop over and help me.  My manuscript looks like a botched autopsy done by a blind and undertrained morgue forensic examiner.