December 6, 2023
Traditions are important. My favorite movie of all time is “Christmas Vacation” (unfortunately, this film was somehow overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that year, a blemish on their history for which I can only image they are still chagrin). Watching the movie around this time of year is a tradition in our family – it is a part of us.
For example, one particular holiday season, when my older children were early teenagers, the three of us were attending a neighbor’s holiday party. The doorbell rang and we happened to be near the door, so I opened it up, only to reveal what I assumed were friends of the friends who I had not met before. I introduced myself as Clark and my children as Rusty and Audrey, assuming they would chuckle at the clear reference to the best movie of all time in the context of a holiday party. I was completely flabbergasted when they politely introduced themselves and proceeded into the kitchen.
My daughter (whose real name is Amelia, an expert arguer and now in law school) was 14-years old at the time and said in the tone that every parent will recognize, “Dad, you can’t just do that. What if they don’t know about that movie and think you are serious?” I responded rather dead-panned, “Well, then we will never be friends with them.” My son Aidan, 12-years old at the time, had a full-face grin and said, “That was amazing, they totally thought those were our names. Let’s do that again to the next people.”
The St. Jude/PIDS conference has become our Society’s tradition. For more than two decades, it is a part of who we are. For many in peds ID, this is the first meeting – in terms of our involvement, the calendar and in a career, given its trainee focus. We eagerly anticipate its arrival. We rework our schedules around it. We look forward to catching up with friends during it. And like a jelly of the month club membership, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.
I can remember attending the very first St. Jude/PIDs conference as a fellow and walking away thinking what an amazing specialty I have chosen. I have always left a St. Jude/PIDS conference with a great new idea, novel collaboration, learning some new clinical insight, or just connecting with wonderful colleagues whose passion for their work would carry throughout the year or longer.
As we head into the crunch of the holiday season, I hope you find time to enjoy a tradition that is special to you. Get your loved ones together and watch a favorite movie, enjoy a cherished song, or indulge in that meal that only comes out on special occasions. You can also get a headstart on planning for our Society’s tradition. Registration and hotel reservations have opened. Abstracts and cases are due Friday. We are looking forward to seeing you in Memphis. I’ll talk with Octavio to see if we can get the little lights in the auditorium twinkling.