Every December my husband and I make the drive from New Orleans to Pineville on the weekend before Christmas. That’s when my big extended family gathers at my parents’ house for a full day of holiday celebration. We drink way too much coffee and eggnog. We play a very loud, very competitive game of Dirty Santa (the gift swapping game otherwise known as White Elephant). And we talk. And talk. And talk some more (there are very few introverts in my family).
This year, in the midst of describing my grad school experience and life in New Orleans, I am going to do something new. I am going to ask the question “Have you been screened?”
“Have you been screened for breast cancer?”
“Have you been screened for cervical cancer?”
“All you 50-somethings, have you been screened for colon cancer?”
“And, have you had all your recommended health screenings?”
And when they ask me why I’m going to say:
“Because I know you want to be here for more games of Dirty Santa.”
“Because I know that more than anything you want to see your grandkids graduate and get married and start families of their own. And getting all your recommended health screenings is a big step towards making that a reality.”
Maybe we’ll be chatting over coffee and I’ll offer a cheers, “To your health! Hey, speaking of your health, have you had a mammogram lately?”
Maybe we’ll be waiting for my brother and cousin to count and recount the pile of gifts for Dirty Santa. “Man, watching all keep track of all the gifts reminds me I need to keep track of my health screenings. Is everyone else up to date on all of those?”
It doesn’t have to be a long, dramatic conversation (unless that’s how your family rolls!). Just bring it up as a quick reminder:
“Hey, since we’re all here enjoying our time together, let’s remind each other to take care of our health. So we can all be here again next year and the next and the next. Because Dirty Santa is the most fun when all 30-something people are crammed in the living room shouting, laughing, and “stealing” each other’s gifts.”
Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?