It’s the holiday season and I bet you can’t wait for those vacation days, right? The weeks after Thanksgiving are some of the most impatient minutes of the year. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and all you want is that next festive day with family and friends. It feels like it’s eons away. It’s a pretty festive time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanzaa – never mind that it’s also dark and cold.

Here’s the thing: life continues in our working world at Towne Nursing. We’re not the stock exchange that closes for the holiday. The people we care for continue to need care, independent of the calendar.

And as you know at least as well as I do, some of these people need basic physical care – hygiene, feeding, and the like. And we all know that they slip when their routine and their treatment are interrupted. But the others…really, it’s the others who get to me. They need more than physical care. They count on us to make the holidays pop. Without our shenanigans, they would have no Christmas or New Year’s (or Chanukah or Kwanzaa) in their lives. And maybe you don’t miss what you never knew, but surely you miss the holidays you celebrated for your whole life.

Look, I have it easy. I don’t necessarily have anywhere else to be. I’m Hindu, and most often, my holidays don’t fall out on Christmas, and certainly not New Year’s. I mean, yes, I also like vacation days… but I’ve been working those days for years, so that the rest of you can take the time off and enjoy it with your families (like I enjoy my holidays with mine!) and I’ve come to love them. I’ll tell you – I’ve learned a lot about Christmas this way, in creating a Christian atmosphere for the believers, and a festive one for everybody. Seriously, these holidays become some of the most significant days of my year – because they are so meaningful to our patients. It’s these days when I know I’m really making a difference in people’s lives. Really. When else would helping our patients mean help them find the meaning they’d been afraid they were already in the process of losing.

Getting paid time-and-a-half doesn’t hurt either.

And yes, I’m sure if I were expected home to be celebrating with my own family, it would be hard to be away, and I can imagine a fight and a half over missing the extended family too. But I still think I’d do it. Every few years anyway. Take my turn, bring these folks we treat every day some holiday cheer too. I see them more often than I see my family, anyway.

It’s that old saying: it’s better to give than to receive… and how the giver really receives that much more. We see that every day here, of course, but if you don’t experience the holidays with our patients, then you’re missing something special, that’s all I can say. Don’t work all the holiday shifts, like I do, or don’t take one every year – your family needs you too. But now and again, by all means, make the sacrifice. What you gain will be worth it, and what you give in holiday cheer is immeasurable.

(And if family and friends don’t understand, just tell them that you’re getting time and half, never mind that what you’re really getting is priceless.)