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So… I’m sure you are wondering, “WHY a purple Christmas tree?” There are three reasons. One goes back to my childhood tradition; the other relates to my passion for dentistry; the last is about giving back to something bigger than ourselves.

It is often said that our circumstances define our journeys. In my case, these circumstances defined my path and my core values from an early age. Following my parent’s divorce when I was just two years old, my sister and I lived with our mother who battled debilitating OCD that impacted our lives in every way. She was trapped by her condition, and my sister and I were trapped by it, too. Her OCD left her incapable of supporting us in the ways we needed, either emotionally or financially, and she refused money and help from my dad’s side of the family. This situation continued until we were 11 and 12 years old when my mother ultimately left us with her parents, Agnes and JB. Wanting to give us a sense of normalcy and family, my maternal grandparents reconnected us with our dad’s side of the family. My sister and I found ourselves split between two starkly different realities.

My grandmother Hazel, my dad’s mom, lived in a pretty white house that had white carpet throughout. For Christmas each year, Hazel would put up a beautiful light pink Christmas tree, decorated with white sparkling lights and glistening pink ornaments to match. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen, and a beacon of light at a time when I was feeling instability and change as a teenager. This is where I learned it was okay to be different and do things outside the box.

Based on my experiences growing up, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to create a sense of security for myself and my family while simultaneously helping others. It is the reason I chose to enter the Dental Hygiene profession. As the years passed, and the pink tree remained a fond memory, I found myself wanting to carry the tradition forward for my twin girls as a way to celebrate their great-grandmother. But of course, it was important to add my own spin on this special tradition. With purple being the official color of Dental Hygiene, I could think of no better way to honor my love for my profession than to paint a tree purple!

The Purple Tree Challenge

This year I am challenging offices and individuals to join me and paint a Christmas tree purple for a very special cause. For each tree painted, DentalPost will donate $25 to Oral Cancer Cause (up to $2,500). The organization was founded by Linda Miles and Robin Morrison to help bring attention to oral cancer, especially in dental offices. The best purple tree picture submitted will win $150. To participate, paint your tree (it should be three feet or taller!), then post a picture to Facebook with the hashtag #PurpleTreeChallenge. Be sure your posts are set to public so we can see them!

Whether you celebrate Diwali, Hannukkah, Ashura, Bodhi Day or Kwanzaa, the holidays are about the spirit of giving. That spirit of giving is something I also love about dentistry; dentistry is a path to improving lives, which is a valuable core value of mine! I believe life is about giving and this family tradition is a great way to honor others. Together we can create new traditions while supporting a great organization that is improving the lives of others.

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