Today in the chart

The Joy of Working the Holidays: A Collection of Holiday Memories from 25 Nurses

As nurses, we share a common thread of being required to work on the holidays

As healthcare professionals, we often spend the holidays with our work family. Breakroom potlucks and Christmas trees made from medical equipment are some of the many reasons that make this season so unique. Here is a collection of holiday memories from 25 nurses that give us reasons to find joy in working during the holidays. 

  1. “The weird nurses that wear hats and Christmas light necklaces.” -Juliana, has worked 12 holiday seasons
  1. “Over the years, my family adjusted the day of our Christmas celebration to fit my scheduled shift, so I never felt like I was missing out. After all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays, working Christmas sometimes seemed like a gift. Being surrounded by longtime co-workers and friends and taking good care of our patients always made me feel grateful.” -Bernadette, 43 holiday seasons
  1. “I’m looking forward to working holidays because it will be nice to have the company of co-workers and bring some holiday cheer for patients. Bringing some festivity into the workplace with decorations and fun activities, like the caroling in our hospital, makes it all more joyful.” -Lucia, about to work her first holiday season
  1. “I remember loving the sense of community it built on the unit. I’ve always been lucky to work with people I like. The holidays were always a disaster in the ER, and everyone just kind of has this attitude like we are in this together.” -Brittney, 13 holiday seasons  
  1. “I can avoid all the awkward family dynamics!” -George, 5 holiday seasons
  1. “My favorite memory from working holidays was having patients' families absorb me into their celebrations with their hospitalized loved ones. I distinctly remember one patient’s family that celebrated Hanukkah with them by lighting battery-operated tea lights on a mini-Menorah each night and inviting the nurses in to listen to their prayers. They even gave us small gifts which was really special. I also remember a family that brought in a mini pine tree that they decorated for their patient. However, when they realized they forgot garland, a few of us nurses came through with rolls of Kerlix to save the day. We had a lot of good laughs over it that Christmas.” -Kelli, 3 holiday seasons 
  1. “The holiday potlucks and getting paid time and a half! There was also less hustle and bustle on my unit and more time to bond with colleagues.” -Annie, 11 holiday seasons
  1. “The extra camaraderie that everyone has on the unit. There’s this unspoken feeling amongst each other like we are all doing this together.” -Tamara, 11 holiday seasons 
  1. “It’s one less meal that I have to cook!” -Sally, 30+ holiday seasons 
  1. “I feel more appreciated by patients than other days, and I also get to avoid in-laws and some family members.” -Manny, 14 holiday seasons
  1. “I really love the sharing of different traditions and customs on the Christmas holiday. Typically, the staff that works it are either transplants from a different state or don’t normally celebrate Christmas. As such, the potlucks are really creative and quite diverse. A range of latkes, sweet/savory waffles, Indian/Chinese/Filipino food, etc. You also tend to meet and bond with various staff from different medical teams and floors because who doesn’t love crashing another department’s potluck?” -Inder, 16 holiday seasons
  1. “The sparkling apple cider New Year's Eve toasts in the ER.” -Emma, 10 holiday seasons
  1. “The potlucks, helping other families be together, and the OT!” -Tina, 11 holiday seasons
  1. “No one wants to come to the ER on a holiday, so it’s usually not too busy!! I love that!” -Corrine, 10 holiday seasons
  1. “The potlucks and more money!” -Jules, 12 holiday seasons
  1. “Bringing holiday cheer to everyone that hates it.” -Juli, 12 holiday seasons
  1. “It’s slow, and the potluck is on fire!” -Stephen, 8 holiday seasons
  1. “I’m looking forward to talking to my patients about their favorite holiday memories. My dad had to spend Thanksgiving 2020 in the hospital, so I’m really empathetic when patients have to be away from their families. That being said, I think reminiscing about happier times with friends and family, even though they can’t be with them, might make them feel less alone, so I want to do that with my patients. Also, I’m looking forward to making those holiday memories with co-workers who understand what it’s like to work on holidays.” -Isabel, about to work her first holiday season
  1. How peaceful the hospital halls are. When you pass someone in the hallway, you smile and nod; there is a silent understanding that we’re all in this together working the holidays.” -Hannah, 11 holiday seasons
  1. “I enjoy the team atmosphere where we might have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, wear Santa hats on Christmas Day, or raise a glass of sparkling grape juice at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The shifts are unique because they take on a much greater ‘we’re in this together’ feel. For that moment, it is ‘our family.’” -Fred, 27 holiday seasons
  1. “I liked being that access point to care when someone needed healthcare. Being a part of the patient journey gives me a sense of pride, honor, and joy, no matter what day of the year they need care.” -Jen, 20+ holiday seasons
  1. “It really puts into perspective what Christmas is actually about; not the presents, but being grateful for your health.” -Laticia, 1 holiday season
  1. “The 0700 Christmas day post-night shift drinks have become one of my favorite holiday traditions.” -John, 15 holiday seasons
  1. “I don’t have a family, so I went from hating the holidays before I was a nurse to loving the holidays once I became a nurse because my work family is my family now.” -Beverly, 35 holiday seasons
  1. “It almost makes you appreciate your family and friends you don’t see while working more since you can’t be with them.” -Jenny, 25 holiday seasons

As nurses, we share a common thread of being required to work on the holidays. This unspoken unity is truly something special to experience. From avoiding your in-laws to apple cider toasts at midnight on New Year’s Eve, we hope these short anecdotes bring a smile to your face this holiday season. 

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