(Not) Home for the holidays

“So, any funs plans for Christmas?”

It’s a question I’m tired of answering, but equally guilty of asking.

The majority of us will take time off, gorge on food, spend time with family and friends, travel or get some much needed R&R.

For the rest, they’ll kiss their families goodbye and head into work.

Retail stores will close. Fitness centres will be dark. The malls will be empty. But the doors of our hospitals, after-hours clinics and emergency facilities and services will stay open for business.

Our first responders are on the clock 24/7. They give us their holidays, their kids’ birthdays, anniversaries, and weekends so our communities stay safe, our services go uninterrupted and we have access to the care we need regardless of the date on the calendar.

On Christmas morning as you open presents with family, there will inevitably be a nurse coming in for work, having snuck out of her house before her kids woke up to make it time for her shift. She’ll miss the joy of seeing her boys open presents and her mom’s world-famous turkey stuffing.

She’ll relieve one of her colleagues who spent all evening consoling family members whose loved one unexpectedly passed away – one of his patients. He’ll fight exhaustion and attempt to focus on his own family instead of the one he empathizes with who is grieving the member they lost.

While we bask in the post-present glow, sipping a Bailey’s and hot chocolate in our PJs, our paramedics will miss the joy of catching up with family while they tend to an accident scene that will change the course of another family’s life forever.

As we drive to our Christmas dinner, a police car will scream by on route to a call. It’s the officer’s first Christmas as a father but he’ll miss making memories with his baby because he’s made the choice to serve the people of his community, the community he takes so much pride in.

We’ll sit down to a full feast surrounded by people we love just as an on-call physician excuses herself from her own family traditions to assist with a patient who’s taken a turn for the worse.

These examples are only a few of those who give us so much not just over the holidays, but every day of the year. There are so many others who are equally pivotal to ensuring our services run smoothly: the housekeeping and food services at local hospitals, dispatch, organ donation coordination teams – the list goes on.

For these folks, they’re not raking in millions or getting special acknowledgement because they’re working on a holiday – they’re doing it because they genuinely want to help.

Most of us won’t need emergency health-care services, the help of firefighters or protection of police, to name a few, over the holidays. But for those who do, they will be there.

Please take a moment to think of those who give up time with their loved ones so we can continue to create positive, healthy memories with our own families on Christmas – and every day of the year.

Merry Christmas to all!


4 thoughts on “(Not) Home for the holidays

  1. Lovely piece Alyshia, speaking as someone who’s first-responder spouse is working today, tomorrow and Boxing Day. Merry Christmas to you and the Brit!


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