The first time I worked Christmas Day, I expected to find grumpy, depressed patients and families because no one wants to be in the hospital, especially on Christmas. While not happy to be hospitalized, most of the patients that I encountered were grateful for the care they were receiving. They knew there was no place more important for them to be, because they were so sick. Likewise, families knew that their loved ones were receiving the care they needed, and so, were equally grateful to those who were providing that care.
I expected the staff to be grumpy and depressed, too; after all, who wants to work on a holiday? In a way similar to patients and families, I was surprised at the generous spirit, good will and camaraderie I encountered among the staff. Some were there because they had the least seniority and were assigned to be (I was in this group the first time I worked Christmas Day). Others worked so that co-workers with young children could be home with their families; still others worked because they do not celebrate the Christmas holiday and made space for coworkers who do. Most of those I have encountered then and in the years that followed have shared the view of the importance of providing the care to those who need it so very much.