The Unexpected 12 Days of Christmas

With about 12 days off for Christmas break, I had so many plans. I imagined all the things I could get done, and yet so little of it actually got checked off. In the end I was left with two questions:

  • Will I ever be able to accomplish all the things I want to get done?
  • Where does my personal checklist weigh in compared to the things that really matter?

Quick recap of events:

Days 1-7. The family was in town. Every morning we woke up and drove to my parents (in-laws) house and stayed past our normal bedtimes. We watched kids play. We ate. We did most of the things families do when they gather. Nothing on my list got done. No workouts, very little reading, very little writing. All of the “I want to’s” were replaced by “We did this” and in the end isn’t that all that really matters?

Day 8. I decided to shave my head. There really wasn’t a whole lot to shave off. All I did was hasten the inevitable along. Turns out taking a razor to my head was practice for the future.

Day 9. Dinner at the in-laws. Just a normal afternoon, but Hank, my Father-in-law, never made it back from an errand. Instead, we got a call saying he may have had a stroke and was being air-lifted to Greenville. Good news, it wasn’t a stroke. Bad news, they found a mass on his brain that needs to be removed.

Day 10. They are going to have to operate to remove the mass. After a little research, we find out that the #8 neurosurgeon in the area in going to perform the procedure. Top ten is not bad, unless there is only sixteen. Did you know doctors get reviewed like restaurants or products on Amazon? The #8 doc has a lot of 1 stars in the comments.

Day 11. Happy New Year with a bit of uncertainty. Operation: Mass Removal takes place in 2 days. When you are planning to have someone dig around in your head, you want the best skull driller out there. Just so happens a family friend and fellow Marine to Hank sits on the hospital board. Put away your Junior Mints #8, because the #1 guy is going to be in the room as well.

Day 12. Time to get razor blades out. Nobody is scalping the Colonel without experience, and it turns out my shiny pate decision gives me the most recent experience in this area. After a nice family lunch, I take off the guard on the blades and do my first fly-over. Follow that up with a warm wash cloth, a generous amount of shaving cream, and a fresh blade, and before we know it, there are two good-looking men in the family (no offense to the others with their fancy quaffs).

My Christmas break ended. As I returned to work, Hank was preparing to go under the knife. The surgery went well. There were no complications. And until we learn the origin of the mass, we are, for the most part, out of the woods.

2018 has ended. 2019 is here. Many take this time to reflect and prepare. As I reflect on the last two weeks, I have been reminded of a few lessons and learned some new ones.

  • As so many of the Stoics teach: Control what you can control. There is so much that is not in our control. We can make plans. We can work diligently to execute them, but we have to keep in mind that there is so much more in life than accomplishing our personal goals. We are not guaranteed of having a tomorrow, so we must live to our fullest today. As the chaos of what we cannot control unfolds around us, we must control what we can control. We can control how we deal with the chaos. We can control our response. Maybe the gods are out to get us, but do they get to dictate our attitudes? We can control our attitudes.
  • The Army is huge. Outside of a few close brothers that I served with, I have never felt the brotherhood of the organization as a whole. The Marines are different, and I am always amazed by it. They won’t leave you behind on the battlefield, and I have yet to see one left behind off the battlefield. The Marines I have had the pleasure of knowing have always been faithful.

Who am I to look down on a person that has given his life to the study  and practice of medicine? Outside of his reviews, I don’t know #8 from Adam. He may be an excellent doctor. Who am I to judge? I am quick to scoff and say I would only want #1. I demand the best out of others, but do I demand the best out of myself? How many 1 stars do I have in my contributions to making this world a better place? On that day of judgment, nobody will be standing before God on my behalf. His review will be the only one that matters, and it will be based on the things I have done, not wished to have done.


  1. Travis King says:

    Very well said.


    1. Tony Fine says:

      Thank you Travis. I appreciate you taking the time to read.


  2. Bonnie Winn says:

    Loved this post. You write from the heart. Beautiful


    1. Tony Fine says:

      Thank you Bonnie!


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