Michael Battalio


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

11th Annual Christmas Mass Email

Greetings and Salutations, 
        Welcome to the Eleventh Annual Christmas Mass E-mail.  I hope this finds each and every one of you well.

        Usually by about Thanksgiving I start thinking about what I want to go in this correspondence, and after much inner turmoil, it isn’t until Christmas Eve itself that I finally decide what topic it is I want to cover.  This year, on the other hand, is completely different.  I’ve known exactly what I want to write about since the middle of September.  It, as usual, has to deal with some of the troubles I’ve been dealing with over the course of my year.
        My dad isn’t a guy of many words, but he makes them count when he speaks.  One of my earliest memories is of a balmy summer’s evening spent playing in the backyard.  My dad pushes me on the  flimsy tire swing under the old pecan tree, and after one particularly strong shove he stares off in his usually way and passes along this life lesson, “Son, one of the most important things you have is your health.  You can’t buy it, take it, or receive it.  You have it, or you don’t.  Take care of yourself.  You get one shot.”  I’ve had that repeated to me in so many words at least a couple of times a year ever since.  The lesson is one of the best pieces of advice he’s given me.  
        I bring it up because this year I’ve watched someone I care about suffer with a pretty atrocious disease while I’m helpless to do anything.  I can’t make them better; I can’t give them my health, as much as I want to.  I hurt watching someone I care about hurt.  Throughout these months of their recovery I keep reflecting on what my dad told me.  I’ve been very healthy my whole life, so I, naturally, take my wellness for granted.  It has never occurred to me that others wouldn’t be as lucky as I am.  You are supposed to be fit when you are young and gradually your physical condition takes more work as you age.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t take a nice, neat path between birth and death, so it is up to your own self to take care of your own self.  Your health is the best gift you possess.  Consequently, the best gift I can give you is the same advice my dad still gives me:  Take care of yourself.  (After you’ve stuffed yourself with the third helping of Christmas brunch, go for a walk tomorrow, and take the time to enjoy it.)  Additionally, the best gift you can give is to take care of everyone around you, even if it is just a smile when you know they’re having a bad day.  They will thank you for it into old age.  

        And there you go.  I’m enjoying my time at Texas A&M; just a few (more) years of grad school left.  Once again, congratulations to all of you who have really done something amazing this year, whether it’s finishing a degree, getting married, starting a family, finding a new passion in life or any other accomplishment.  But never be satisfied; always strive for more.  Always question, learn, grow; otherwise, what’s the point?
        Enjoy the season, appreciate the little things, and take the time to give yourself some credit for making it as far as you have.  Reply to let me know how you’re doing and what you’ve accomplished; wanting to hear from you is half the reason I send this every year.

As I’ve been having to teach as part of my assistantship, here is a teacher-themed requisite bad joke…

A new teacher is trying to make use of her psychology courses.  She starts her class by saying, “Everyone who thinks you’re stupid, stand up.”
After a few seconds, Little Johnny stood up.  The teacher said, “Now, Little Johnny, no one is stupid.  You don’t think you’re stupid, do you, Little Johnny?”
“No ma’am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!”

Best wishes, happy holidays,
Battalio
http://www.battalio.com/

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