December to Remember

Guest post by Julie Pepper Lim, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Meritage Medical Network.

In the midst of all the holiday parties along with the hustle and bustle of shopping, December can also be a time of deep reflection on what happened during the year.

This particular year was shrouded in blankets of smoke, loss and hardship, political turmoil, but also an astounding collective resilience. Each morning, the sun rose, sometimes obscured in a blurry silhouette, or hidden from sight entirely, and other times emerging bright and fiery above or amidst the ruins. I’m struck by how the sun does that, no matter what else is going on.

Whether it’s the simplicity and tradition of Aaron Tippin’s “A December to Remember” where he’s searching to find that special tree/ that looks just right/to decorate perfectly, or Demi Lovato’s “December Remember” where she’s urging her lover to not surrender their love by remembering who they were in December. There’s something about December, even when it’s filled with anxiety and exhaustion from all the festivities, that’s worth remembering and reflecting on.

I first started working at Meritage Medical Network, last December. I thought I entered an alternate universe. I was blown away by all the different workplace initiatives Meritage had in place. In addition to their Wellness program, consisting of built-in walking days, meditation and TED talks, Meritage created December to Remember which populated the calendar with fun things to do every single work day in December.

Fun activities would include tree and workspace decorating, Taco Tuesday, Chair Massage Friday, raffle ticket day, bring your dog to work day, Bingo Day complete with prizes, Holiday Craft Day, Pajama Day, and Gratitude Tree Day. Even if you didn’t grow up celebrating the holidays, it’s hard not to get in the holiday spirit after going through this full course of holiday activities.

With this year’s December calendar update, I was excited about the things that were ahead. I don’t remember exactly all the details of the events that transpired last year but what I can’t forget is the warm feeling I had when I came to work every day in December. I looked forward to the designated time together to laugh, connect, and share stories. It was especially meaningful when everyone contributed a taste of their heritage at an ancestry potluck which allowed room for a time of reflection on things that happened during the year.

I have moved a lot in my adult life so staying in one place for more than a year has almost become a novelty for me. The idea, that a year from now we may be celebrating another December to Remember at Meritage, feels foreign to me yet familiar at the same time, in the way that creating new memories imprints that feeling of nostalgia on our minds. But this also makes me think about those who are forced to move out of their homes in light of the devastation in places like Butte this year, and in Sonoma and Napa Counties, last year, not to mention the storm ravished Puerto Rico, and so many other huge landscapes forever changed.

Reflection allows us to take another look at moments that shaped us. Remembering, is what makes us understand the value of what’s come before and perhaps what could be different in the future. Remembering, helps us look back and gives us much needed perspective.

I didn’t know much about the small town of Paradise before it became prey to Mother Nature’s overwhelming siege in November. Paradise—a name evoking thoughts of rhapsody, exhilaration and intoxication. Intoxication, now forming a new image in our memory—the dark, smoky, toxic root of the word coming to life and holding entirely new meaning.

This December, lots of people can’t go to work because there isn’t “a work” to go to. Hundreds of thousands understand home in a new context. Many have lost loved ones and won’t be able to reenact their annual traditions.
Yet people have come together, courageously and miraculously battling the elements and fighting with everything they have, to overcome what they’ve lost.

As we come together in our place of work with the good fortune to still be standing and we share in small moments, creating new memories, we’ll remember all of it. We’ll remember the pain and try not to take one minute of joy for granted. The sun will still rise and set, whether we pay tribute to its magnificence or not, but I’m hoping we do, every chance we get.
Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, December is a good time to remember. Reflect on what happened to you and to the people and places around you. See the breaks of light pushing through the black sky and discover new ways of looking at the planet. I love the idea of making this December one where we remember.

Julie Pepper Lim works in the Network Relations department of Meritage Medical Network in Marketing and Communications. She is a published fiction author, essayist, short story writer, playwright and a strong believer in story’s power to transcend.
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