Thursday, December 02, 2010
Christmas is a time for tradition

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

As we approach Christmas, we will begin making plans to be with our family. We sometimes forget the fact that there are a limited number of Christmases that we will face in the course of a lifetime. For most of us there will be less than 90 of them. That is about three months' worth out of an entire lifetime. We need to make sure that we make good use of that time. For example, if you get together with your family every other year, that cuts it down to just 45 in a lifetime. The first thing is to treasure those times that you do have. One of the things that happens at Christmas is a long break from school. This break explains why Disney World is so full that week. It is important to ask yourself if that is the right time to be on a vacation far away from the rest of your family. Another thing about being with family at this time of the year are the long standing quarrels that some family members have. Often these go on for years and, in most cases, they are based on petty things. One of the two individuals has to make the effort to smooth things over. You might be the person to do that. Children learn from their parents. They will develop Christmas traditions based upon what they see. If their parents are about family at Christmas time, they will be too. Some parents will be upset when they do not see their children at Christmas. The same thing is true of grandparents. The question in those cases is what kind of example did they set for their children at Christmas when the children were growing up. The example needed to include the importance of being together and family traditions that made their family special and different. I still remember the traditional Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas day dinner my family had. The Christmas dinner would begin at 3 p.m. with the antipasto. It would extend to the pasta and meatballs and salad at 4 p.m. Then the main course of roast beef with the typical side dishes would be at 5 p.m. That would be followed by dessert at 7 p.m. The nightcap would be the fruit and nuts at 8 p.m. Each of us has something that we cling to from our family's history. It is like the old story that everyone has heard. Mother takes the roast for the holiday meal. She cuts off a piece of it and removes it. Her daughter asks her why. Mother says that is what she was taught by her mother. Her mother is present and so they ask her. She indicates it was what she was taught by her mother. Great grandmom is there as well. When they ask her why, she responds that she only had a small pan and she had to cut off the end so it would fit. Traditions can sometimes exist without a great reason. As we make plans for later this month, we need to think about the best way to celebrate Christmas for ourselves and as a family. We each have less than 90 of them left.

World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) in partnership with community HIV/AIDS service providers, reminds the public that World AIDS Day is Dec. 1. While African Americans make up just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they represent nearly half of the 56,000 new HIV infections that occur each year and half of the more than 14,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC. In Delaware, while African Americans account for 21 percent of the state's population, they account for 66 percent of the total HIV/AIDS cases in the state, according to DPH's HIV surveillance program. Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director, urges Delawareans to get tested. "We all play a critical role in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS," she said. World AIDS Day is an effort to bring HIV/AIDS to greater attention by motivating communities to organize and demonstrate their support through marches and other public awareness events and by encouraging everyone to make a personal commitment to protect themselves and their partners. Special commemorative events will be held at several locations in Delaware. Area events will be held at:

  • Kent/Sussex Counseling Services (Laurel) - Guest speaker, candlelight ceremony, praise team performance 6 p.m. Call 387-5495.
  • La Red Health Center - Free HIV counseling and testing, candlelight walk. 6 p.m. Call 855-2130, ext. 103.
To find a testing site nearest you visit, and type in your zip code or call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or the DPH HIV Prevention Program at 302-744-1050 for more information.

Taste Testing Day The Look-In Glass Shoppe at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a Quick Dinners, Soups, and Dips Taste Testing Day on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Lobby to taste test all-natural, easy to prepare dinners and soups, and fresh and tasty bread dips and dipping oils- just like the dips found in Italian restaurants. These treats are perfect for the holidays and will be available for sale in The Look-In Glass Shoppe. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 4955. Payment is expected at time of order.

Get your flu shot Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) continues to urge all Delawareans 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu, a highly contagious virus. On Nov. 16, the DPH lab confirmed a case of H1N1 flu in a 50-year-old New Castle County man who is recovering at home. This serves as a reminder that people should get vaccinated as soon as possible. This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against three likely flu strains, including the H1N1 virus, and is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies and DPH clinics.

It is especially important that the following groups get their flu shots as soon as possible:
  • Pregnant women and their household contacts;
  • Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine;
  • Seniors;
  • Those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
DPH offers free flu shots at health clinics in all three counties. Visit for flu clinic schedules and other flu information.

Ornament sale The Look-In Glass Shoppe will hold their annual "Ornament Personalization Sale" on Friday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the main lobby at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Select from a large variety of ornaments. Santa's elves will be on duty to add that personal touch. Delivery will be available within the hospital only. Come early for the best selection, as quantities are limited. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 4955.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Cancer Support Group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The next meeting takes place on Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m. The Wellness Community, an affiliate of the Cancer Support community, is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. Call 645-9150 for information or to register. All support groups offered at the Wellness Community are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospice's "New Beginnings" bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month according to the following schedule:
  • 1st Thursday: Grottos Pizza, Rte. 26, Bethany Beach;
  • 2nd Thursday: Georgia House, 300 Delaware Ave., Laurel;
  • 3rd Thursday: Millsboro Pizza Palace, Rt. 113-southbound lane, Millsboro;
  • 4th Thursday: Blue Ocean Grill (formerly Milton House), 200 Broadkill Rd., Milton;
  • 5th Thursday (when applicable): Texas Grill (formerly Ocean Point Grill), 26089 Long Neck Rd., Millsboro.
"New Beginnings" luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Carol Dobson or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Competition to improve school meals Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge to improve school meals and the health of children across the nation through the creation of exciting new recipes for inclusion on school lunch menus. The competition will draw on the talents of chefs, students, food service professionals, and parents or other community members working together to develop tasty, nutritious, kid-approved foods. There will be a grand prize chosen by the judging panel as well as a Popular Choice winner based on public voting. The judges will also choose award winners for the top two recipes in each category. Winning teams will be invited to prepare their nutrition-packed meals alongside White House chefs. The top ten recipes in each category will be published in a Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook to share with students and families. To learn more about the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, visit The deadline for recipe submissions is Dec. 30. For more information, visit