Originally posted 12/25/18
Disclaimer: My views and opinions are my own and not that of Children’s Minnesota.
Anyone who has worked a food service or a retail job has likely, at some point, been scheduled to work on a holiday. Whether that's New Years, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, or any others, it can be difficult to be at work instead of relaxing at home. I found that I resented working the holidays when I was a food service employee. I resented that the business I worked for felt that the best way to make money was to stay open on special days like Easter, at the expense of pulling employees away from spending time with family or enjoying a day off.
As a health-care employee, my perspective has shifted.
When I gave my winter and holiday work availability, I knew there was a good chance that I'd be scheduled to work on a day that I'd rather not. When I saw that I was on-board for a shift on Christmas day, it wasn't a surprise, but it was a little disappointing. Given the choice, of course, I'd rather spend the holidays in my pajamas, with my family, eating tasty food and enjoying conversations and time together.
But the patients I'm serving don't get that choice. They don't get to be home on Christmas, carefree and relaxed. If they're sick enough to be in the hospital on Christmas, that likely means they won't be feeling well, or that they might be in pain. And what a difficult time of year it is for parents and families of sick children--torn between other family and work obligations while trying to help their child have a good holiday in a hospital bed.
When I think about the privilege that I have to be healthy and to be able to travel to see and spend time with my family, I find I can't quite complain anymore. I'm scheduled to work in the afternoon, so I will get to spend the morning with my family, having the relaxing Christmas that I want. I'm not the first person to be scheduled on Christmas, and I'm certainly not going to be the only person working that day. The doctors, nurses, other health professionals, food service workers, receptionists, maintenance staff--there will hundreds of people working with me on Christmas Day.
And I love my job! I don't love every second of every shift, but I love what I get to do, and I love that I get to work to serve the kiddos. To borrow from Children's: They're the most amazing people on earth! So why not bring that attitude and that passion into work on a day where joy might be hard to find?
Like every other person who is scheduled to work on Christmas, the job I'm doing is a job that must be done: my patients on specialty formulas need those formulas for nourishment. My patients ordering room service need that food too. My patient records need to be updated and organized. Elsewhere in the hospital, patients need medications, they need to be bathed, they need extra care when something goes wrong. Food needs to be prepared, floors need to be cleaned, and so forth. Going into work with a miserable, self-pitying attitude isn't going to change the fact that I'll be at work. It's not going to get rid of the work that needs to be done. Coming into work acting like the Grinch is certainly not going to make me feel better. Making like Ebeneezer Scrooge is not going to spread Christmas cheer or glad tidings.
So on Christmas afternoon, I'll slide into my scrubs, maybe throw a Christmas sweater on top, and head over to the hospital to serve my patients and their families--joyfully.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!