Thinking about the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and the upcoming holiday season, it strikes me how perfect the timing is for this particular holiday. At the end of the year, it's a time for reflection about the blessings, joys, and challenges experienced through the year past. And, with a New Year approaching, it's a time to look ahead with hope and anticipation for what the future brings.
As I reflect on the hard year that our family has personally experienced, like so many other families during these tough times, it's tempting for me to fix my gaze on the challenges: my husband's job struggles, the financial problems, and the kids' health challenges (both have cystic fibrosis). And, then of course, the news reports don't help much as bad news screams from every street corner. It's hard to get away from it all!
And then I think about the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and it reminds me of all the many blessings I have to be thankful for. I am thankful that my true love isn't giving me a bunch of birds, maids, lords, and drummers. Although five golden rings do sound nice.... And I am thankful that we don't live in the 1700's which is when it is thought this song originated. Talk about tough times!
Life then was primarily small farming communities. What you raised or grew, you ate. No electricity, running water, plumbing, internet, or Safeway. Imagine that. Probably half of the population lived at the barest survival level. The poorest families lived together, packed into just one room. There was no welfare or unemployment checks or SSI. If the king or queen didn't like you, off with your head! Of course there was plenty of civil unrest and war: both the French and the American Revolutions occurred during this time.
And then there was the medical "system." Until 1745, barbers performed surgical operations. Yup, you read that right. "Will you be getting your hair cut today or having your appendix removed?" Ewww! In fact, did you know that the red and white barber pole is thought to represent the "blood and bandages" associated with those early dual-role days?
Smallpox was a major scourge during these times. It killed 400,000 Europeans during the 1700's alone and quacks abounded. Because medical knowledge was so limited, desperate people were vulnerable to the promises made by slick and sleazy characters hence the term: "snake oil salesman."
One of the most common treatments for many ailments was bathing in spas. Or drinking spa water. Ewww again! Was that before or after everyone had their weekly bath? Bringing this to a more personal level, babies with CF died fairly soon after birth. But today, those with CF can be very hopeful about living a full, rich life due to the many medical advances we continue to see.
So, as hard as this year has been, in light of the time and place we live in now, I am thankful. Thankful for my faith, my family and friends, my work, my country, and my freedom. And, I am thankful for a wonderful community of people like you, our doctors, and the many others who dedicate their passions, skills, and lives to helping those of us who live with CF to live better. Thank you. And I'm also thankful for a "partridge in a pear tree" for helping me keep things in perspective.