a 365 day a year thing
A really good thing about being busy around the Christmas holidays is that there isn’t a lot of time to spend at Wal-Mart or watching TV viewing Madison Avenue’s idea of the perfect Christmas. If you work as a home health or hospice nurse, you know how most of America lives and there is a reason they don’t make TV commercials promoting conspicuous spending aimed towards our patients.
When my son was ten, I was working at the cath lab. He had the worst case of chicken pox I have ever seen outside of the ICU. It was amazing to see how fast those little pox appeared. The cath lab where I worked was owned by three groups of physicians. Each of those groups had a Christmas party that year and of course, the cath lab had their own party. That was four. Four dresses, four pairs of shoes, four parties with essentially the same attendees.
Then there were some family obligations, the shopping, the cooking and all the relatives coming into town for Christmas. I also had to squeeze in about 8 or 10 hours of work every day because everyone wanted their heart cath done by the end of the year because their deductible had already been paid.
But, the cath lab was closed on Christmas. I finally got the day off. I overslept,was too cranky to enjoy my family and felt put upon to stay awake and visit with my favorite people in the world.
This is what I learned that year and it has stayed with me ever since unlike a lot of life’s lessons that I promptly forget.
- People are sick 365 days a year. It is not a coincidence that we are nurses for an equal number of days.
- People do not always consider your schedule when they die or get sick.
- A party is a party. Nobody dies if you decline an invitation.
- You do not have to wait until Christmas to spend time with your family
- Your best friend deserves a present any time you think about it and overlooks it if you don’t kill yourself trying to find the perfect sweater on Christmas eve.
- When you are feeling grumpy, fat, unloved and unwanted, visit a nursing home. You will see how valuable you are at your worst.
- The holidays coincide with the flu season. Take care of yourself.
- If you have to choose between spending some time with your 8 yr old or making a sweet potato casserole, buy the casserole.
- Gifts from the heart are not found on aisle 7. Competitive gift giving is a game for the morally vacant.
- Christmas inspires charity. The soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. are open all year. Sometimes you’re needed most on a random Wednesday in August.
I wish you all the very best for Christmas. I hope that the peace and good will you find are lasting. My life is better because of you. More importantly, there are a lot of elderly folks living at home comfortably surrounded by their families because of you. Someone without a family feels less alone this holiday season because of you and you are going to be there next week for those patients who were disappointed when their children couldn’t find the time to visit. Some of you who are not working will sneak away from the fam and run a plate by a patient you know will be alone. I know you. Take your kids.
If you have to work Christmas day, be there for your patients because the example you are setting for your family is more valuable than a new Xbox. The fabric of your family is built upon your continual presence, physical and emotional. You are not a Mom, a Wife, a husband, a child or Best Friend on holidays only. Like nursing, its a 365 day kind of thing.