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Holiday Reflections


Go ahead, call me a sap. Honestly, there is a bit of truth in it here. Maybe elsewhere, too.

As with so many Americans, we kicked off the season celebrating Thanksgiving last week. Although smaller than usual it was still joyful and it’s just the beginning.

Some celebrate Hanukah or Kwanzaa among many other holidays or traditions that come with this time of the year. Whichever your celebration, I wish you and your loved ones the very best.

For us it is Christmas and I just love its music. Now the sappy part. At the top of my Spotify holiday playlist is ‘Grown Up Christmas List.’ My favorite rendition is sung by Amy Grant.

It’s a Christmas ballad reflecting on the innocence of childhood and the dreams of toys and games and other gifts under the tree. Fast forward to the chorus and the now grown-up is wishing for wars not to start, healing for a broken heart, and other noble longings.

By the middle of December, I have played it enough that many would grow weary. But, maybe not this year. Maybe not this year among the pandemic and polarization. Maybe not this year amidst the unrest and upheaval. Maybe this year we could reflect on the very simple message of this song.

That reflection has been with me for several days now. What would my Grown-Up Christmas list be? Certainly, a safe and effective vaccine. Yes, a return to high school and college rigor, milestones and enjoyment for the girls. For Donna and me, the world reopening to travel, exploration and learning. But these wishes feel just a bit like updated versions of the chorus of that song.

While my Grown-Up Christmas list surely has these things, it also includes:

  • The precious gift of a close friend who is black to share the joys and struggles of life with.
  • The opportunity to learn about the Latinx culture more than its great food.
  • The courage to use wherever I am and whatever I do to help chip away at systemic racism.
  • The chance to be forgiven for not fighting harder or sooner for equality and for the missteps made along the way.
  • The resolution to be anti-racist and help others be so also, inviting conversation rather than confrontation.

All these things are on my Grown-Up Christmas list hopefully transforming it from sappy to substance. From reflection to reality. Both in and out of the office.

As we begin to say ‘good riddance’ to 2020, what is on your grown-up wish list this year? I hope you will share it here. More so, I hope you will share it at your holiday celebrations no matter how big or small. And not just share it, but work to have it come true.

Author(s):
Mike Gifford
President and Chief Executive Officer

Michael J. Gifford has been a leading force in the fight against AIDS in the United States for three decades. He currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Vivent Health. During…