Thursday, December 19, 2013
Have a good old fashioned Christmas filled with family
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

In the past I have written about the importance of family mealtimes as a communication device. That is why I recommend eating out as a family where everyone is a captive audience to the conversation. I have also written about my familys traditional Christmas meals. They began at 3 p.m. with antipasto. They continued at 4 with lasagna, meatballs, salad and bread. That was followed by roast beef, potatoes and vegetables at 5:30. Dessert followed at 7. Fruit and nuts were served at 8. The result was most of the day spent at the dinner table. I would like to combine both of the above thoughts into a challenge for each family this Christmas. The challenge has two parts. The first part is to have everyone at the dinner table together for a good, long holiday meal. It does not need to take the 6 hours that my family used to take. However, it should extend beyond the usual 20 minutes for a good size meal. It also should involve all family members at the same time. The second part of the challenge is much more onerous. I would suggest that during the time of the extended meal no electronic devices be involved. There should be no television set playing in the background. There should be no texting or video game playing. This would be a special challenge for the children who have received new video games from Santa. As a matter of fact, the first rule should be that dinner is not started until all electronic devices are entirely shut off. This would avoid the receiving of phone calls, text messages and tweets during dinner. This would also take away the need to post pictures of dinner on Facebook. We sometimes forget that all of these things are relatively recent. There was a time when we communicated when needed. The telephone call could be returned when we got home. No one really needed to know what we were currently watching on television. We were unable to text and drive. There has always been a need for better family communication. The best time to do that is during meals. Christmas dinner should serve as an example of the right way to do things. There is probably no better Christmas present than spending time together as a family. Even in Dickens Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim and the rest of the Cratchits were happier about their Christmas dinner than Scrooge was. For that reason, I am laying down this challenge to all individuals who say that they will be spending Christmas with their family. See if you can actually do that with all the electronics out of the way. Make it a good old fashioned Christmas filled with family conversation.

Challenge collects 3,000 units The 12th-annual Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Blood Challenge proved to be a big success as 2,903 productive units of blood were collected from 2,776 donors on nine CAA campuses. Over the 12-year history of the event, the CAA Blood Challenge has resulted in 39,622 productive units of blood. The University of Delaware captured the CAA Blood Challenge for the third year in a row and seventh time overall with 1,173 donors.

Delaware used the theme Dare to Donate and enlisted the support of the businesses in the city of Newark as well as the campus community to spread the word of the blood drive.

Grief Support Group Delaware Hospice will hold a free six-week support group for young widows, widowers and life partners (under the age of 60) on Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Jan. 7 through Feb. 11, at the Delaware Hospice Millsboro Office, 315 Old Landing Rd., Millsboro. Topics include what to expect when grieving the loss of a special person, ways to cope with grief, ways to prepare for special days and holidays, the complexities which include support and conflict regarding family dynamics, the significance of beliefs and expectations for healing, and ways to live with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. Registration is requested by Monday, Jan. 6, by contacting Carol Dobson, MSW, at 302-478-5707, ext. 1342 or by emailing

Memory Cafe Holiday Brunch People with memory loss and their caregivers are invited to Memory Cafés Holiday Brunch, which will be held at The Kool Bean Bistro, at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 23.  RSVP to Yolanda at 302-539-2671 or by Friday, Dec. 20, in order to be included in the final reservation. Memory Café for people with memory loss and their caregivers meets on the 4th Monday of every month, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, usually at the Ocean View CHEER Coastal Leisure Center. Guests at the Holiday Brunch will be responsible to pay for their own meal.  

DPC searches for medical director Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf has announced a key leadership transition at the Delaware Psychiatric Center (DPC) as hospital director Gregory A. Valentine (MSW, LSCSW) leaves for a new position in Arizona and Dr. Gerard Gallucci (MD, MHS), medical director for DHSS Office of the Secretary, becomes acting hospital director next month. A national search will be conducted to find Valentines permanent successor. Valentine has served as DPCs director since September 2011.

Frosty Freeze Fundraiser MAC Inc., Area Agency on Aging, will host The Frosty Freeze, Delmarvas official hot chocolate 2K Run/Walk, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. The event will benefit the wellness scholarship fund for seniors wanting to participate in activities at the Richard A. Henson Wellness Center & Gym. The run/walk will be held on the campus of the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Building/Senior Services Building (just behind the Holly Center on Snow Hill Road, Salisbury). For more information, call Lea Cataggio at 410-742-0505, ext. 130.