The Christmas Heart & Spirit

Ah!  Even Snoopy is bitten by the Santa bug!

See?! Snoopy is even in the spirit!

During the Christmas season, I am not immune to the holiday spirit.  I’m a self-declared Santa’s little elf.  No, I’m not stuffing stockings or checking bad children off Santa’s list at the North Pole.  I’m a volunteer gift-wrapper at Barnes and Nobles!!!  It’s through NYU Habitat for Humanity, and I help fundraise for my spring break Alternative Breaks trip to West Virginia at Patch Adams Gesundheit! Institute.  More about that come spring time…

Anywho… I’ve been wrapping gifts since last Christmas.  I love it, even though I end up on my hands and knees, all day long and all by myself sometimes.  I am no amateur anymore; I’m pretty much professional, lol… I can wrap all shapes and sizes, in quick time and minimal paper waste.  If I make a mistake, I can carefully unwrap and start again.  If I get a hexagonal cylinder with a children’s rubics cube game, I use my scissor as a crafting tool and carve out a beautifully wrapped present.  In addition, I love chatting with people I help.  Most really do have hearts, and donate anywhere from $2 to $20.  I see how people are attentive to charity work, especially when student volunteers are willing to dedicate significant time to gift wrap for strangers, almost for free.  To hear holiday wishes and good-natured laughs while I volunteer my time is truly touching and magical.

Ah! The Christmas spirit straight in the house...

I see my brief stint as a gift wrapper in light of the health care field.  In medicine, I know it’s essential to have the brains AND the heart.  The heart is the center of emotion, intuition, and personality even.  It nourishes sympathy and love.  For me, I’m a people-oriented person, very social, considerate, and selfless.  During my time, I chatted and crafted each present individually.  Gift-wrapping is an art, a way for me to express my inner nature.  The care I took to beautify each gift showed that I am ambitious, meticulous, dedicated, and hard-working from the heart out.  I want to carry this to my future in medicine, because I want to treat each patient individually, just as I cared for each gift for each customer.  People were grateful for my generosity, and I was happy to give an additional gift of my time and effort during this festive, benevolent season.  I do not ask for anything back, except the opportunity to continue my community service endeavors and the chance to travel to accomplish my dreams.

As one customer commented to me, “Oh, you don’t have to make it perfect.  Look at you, it’s like you’re performing a suture!”  This occurred when I made a mistake and forgot to cover the price.  The green wrapping paper was almost taped together and ready for the finishing touches.  Then, after realizing my mistake, I took my time (and the poor customer’s time) to remove the tape and start again, even when I could have easily just ripped everything up and started anew with fresh paper.  First, I did not want to waste paper; I reduce and reuse, even old gift wrap that are perfectly reusable.  Second, I like to go back and fix my own mistake.  I took the scissor and snipped away the tape perfectly.  I covered up any marks and rips I may have made, and whipped out a neatly-wrapped Christmas gift.  I took to heart his comment about my character and insistence to perfect and repair.  As a doctor, my job will be to perfect and repair, even if I’m not planning to enter surgery.  Even with my delicate hands, I do not wish to enter that field.  Instead, I want to enter primary care, to guide patients to lead healthy, satisfying lifestyles.  I can perfect my profession by educating myself and my patients about their well-being.  I can improve as a person and as a future doctor because people’s lives are in my hands.  I can repair lives by encouraging prevention, healthy nutrition and exercise, and personal care management.  I am in the position to change the future of primary care and millions of lives.  I can help people adopt ways to hinder the growing chronic problems facing America today.

Just as each donation made the teeniest influence in supporting NYU students like myself to travel abroad and serve the community, each experience has fostered my growing passion for medicine.  Each gift I wrapped was like a patient I treated.  I observed each gift for its size and shape; then I estimated the right amount of special paper to completely wrap without wasting too much or additional paper.  Then I efficiently started wrapping and taping.  The end result was an ornamental, neat present, a gift from the heart of each purchaser for a dear friend, family member, or significant other.  It was a gift wrapped with love and happiness.  Likewise, each patient deserves special treatment and attention.  Doctors take medical histories, symptoms, and current complications to size up their patients.  Then, they go about applying tests for diagnoses and treatments.  The end result is a patient getting quality, optimal care.  He or she is treated like a human being, someone different from the person next door.  There is a sacred doctor-patient relationship that mirrors the connection between the people and gifts.  That’s how this one particular seasonal activity illuminates my view of the future.

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