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If 2020 Was a Gift, Would You Keep It or Exchange It? Putting Things Into Perspective

December 22, 2020

By Yvette C Terrie, BS Pharm, RPh, Consultant Pharmacist

With the Christmas season underway, depending upon where you live, it will definitely be different for many families. However, we can all try to focus on the true spirit of Christmas by showing kindness and love to one another. At this point, many will probably have the gift of “normalcy” on their Christmas list.  I think that we can all agree that 2020 is a year that none of us would have ever imagined living through and it will be a year we will never forget. In conversations with others, this year has been described as challenging, stressful, frustrating and depressing, but some have also described it as a year to slow down and focus on getting healthy. There is no right or wrong answer, it depends on one’s perspective and how this year affected each individual. Hopefully, 2020 has taught us all some valuable life lessons.

Throughout the pandemic, my oldest son, who by the way has always been a wise young man with an old soul stated, “The term 20/20 vision has always been synonymous with perfect vision and it’s somewhat interesting that in the year 2020, we have been witness to a moment in history when the entire world was besieged by a common invisible enemy. The pandemic has given each of us an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the world around us. If we took the time to stop and listen to what the year was trying to say, it provided us with clarity on the people and things that really matter in this life.”  

Throughout this challenging year and especially as the end of 2020 draws near, I find myself reflecting on my son’s profound words and how the ongoing pandemic has affected or strengthened my perspective on life as a health care professional and as a person. I also thought about a quote from author, Dr Wayne Dyer that states, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.1 At the beginning of the pandemic, we all experienced fear, anxiety, worry and a great sense of uncertainty due to a novel and relentless virus that even concerned health experts. The ongoing pandemic has altered the way we once lived life, but in spite of those challenges we have prevailed. During the pandemic, the terms: lockdown, mitigation, social distancing, telemedicine visits, pandemic fatigue and mask mandates became part of our everyday vocabularies. We all to some degree experienced long lines at the grocery store, witnessed empty shelves, closed businesses, lost jobs and the list goes on. Here, we are in our 9th month of the ongoing pandemic, while implementing universal infection control protocols, we can see a glimmer of hope as many businesses have reopened, some places have resumed in person schooling and in person health care has resumed in many places as well. By now, some people have even received the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Along the way, hopefully, we have learned some valuable lessons about the significance of our health care system, the world itself and about ourselves. For example, some of the notable lessons, we may have learned during the pandemic include:

  • A greater appreciation for all first responders and essential workers who keep life going even during a pandemic.
  • Using technology to ensure delivery of quality health care.
  • The need to stress the importance of implementing proactive and preventative health practices to reduce or prevent medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer and recommended screenings for these conditions.
  • The importance of reinforcing continuity of routine health care and adherence to patient therapies.
  • The critical nature of medical research to explore and develop novel therapies for medical conditions.
  • The need for health care providers to increase awareness about maintaining overall health and to reinforce patient education initiatives which may encourage patients to take an active role in their own health.
  • The need to increase awareness about helping those with mental health and drug addiction issues.  
  • Appreciating the little things in life and trying to live with a grateful attitude.
  • Making your physical and mental health a top priority and slowing down and enjoying life’s treasures, especially time with your loved ones.
  • Some of life’s most valuable lessons come from challenging times.
  • Every day truly is a gift and the people in our lives are the true treasures.
  • While we can’t always control things in life, we have control on how we respond to it.

My family has been blessed to have dear friends from various faiths and despite our different beliefs, the things that have kept our friendships tightly woven through the years is love, respect, acceptance and the willingness to learn and celebrate each other’s faiths and cultural beliefs. I think the world could use a heavy dose of love, respect and acceptance and just maybe we can learn that divided, we will never accomplish anything, but united we can overcome even the most challenging obstacles including this relentless virus. Faith, family and friends have sustained my family and many families throughout the pandemic and for us, Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I sincerely wish you all the things that reflect the true meaning of Christmas, which is hope, love and peace. Yes, 2020 has been a tough year for many in varying degrees and I hope that despite the challenges, we can focus on the true meaning of Christmas and realize that the greatest gifts cannot be found under the tree, but in our loved ones. To all who have lost loved ones this year, my prayers are with you especially during the holidays. In my life time, I have lost many loved ones including my parents, two siblings, my father-in law and a child and the holidays are always bittersweet because of the voids of those loved ones. In closing, I will leave you with the words from one of my sister Nicole’s favorite Christmas songs which was “Grown-Up Christmas List” by the talented singer, Amy Grant. One of the verses says,

“So here’s my lifelong wish

My grownup Christmas list

Not for myself, but for a world in need,

 No more lives torn apart,

That wars would never start,

And time would heal all hearts.

And every one would have a friend,

And right would always win,

And love would never end

This is my grown-up Christmas list.”

This Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, I wish that Grown Up Christmas List for each of you and I also wish you good health, love, peace, laughter and happiness every day of the year. Let’s make this an everyday wish list. Whether we realize it or not, despite the challenges, 2020 has been an opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves, our fellow human beings, what is truly important and the world around us. It’s up to us if we use the time to better ourselves and our health and remember that every day is truly a gift. Here’s to 2021, may we all see a rainbow and the sun after this storm.


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