The holidays approach. Every year they come. And every year I force myself to embrace them. A little history. I used to be that annoying holiday cheer person. I would not only listen to, but sing along to Christmas music in the summer. Halloween was the beginning of the holiday season and I LIKED it that way. I was the Christmas freak while I lived at home, encouraging other family members to get in the spirit and soak it all up. I spent hundreds of hard earned young technician dollars on decorations, thousands of lights, a tree, candles, music, treats, heck I even BAKED for my neighbors. I loved it. And then I started working in emergency.
My first DoveLewis Christmas I was working swing shift. I woke up on Christmas (late) morning, made grilled cheese and tomato soup, and cried as I ate it, gazing at my beautifully lighted tree. There was no family, no excitement, no pumpkin pie. Over the next couple years I grew to appreciate my extended DoveLewis family and the good times we had on the holidays, plus I always got a couple days with my real family around that time, life was good! And then I started working in management.
The holidays as a manager take on a new horror. Now I was responsible for making sure the floor was covered, decide the on call shifts, and balance everyone’s random family needs in the schedule as best I could. That meant sometimes having a horrible lottery to assign people to shifts, and being the bad guy that had to say “Emergency medicine means weekends and holidays. All holidays”. And because I am who I am, I ended up working a great many of those open shifts. And on-call shifts. And granting vacation to that overnighter so she could see her family for the first time in 5 years and I’ll work a week of overnights. I lost sleep over the schedule. I stopped crying over missing traditions on Christmas morning, it became just another annoying day. I even stopped decorating my house. For me to have no tree? This was big.
Even in the middle of my holiday crabbiness I knew that I hated what I had become. But I couldn’t get away from it. Starting in October I dreaded the holidays, and celebrated their passing in January. I began to roll my eyes at happy people in the mall, anger simmered when people talked of getting 4 day weekends over Christmas, and the music? Forget it. But last year I sucked it up, pulled out my giant tree and went for it. I spent hours putting the lights in just the right places. I wrapped presents for my dogs and placed them under the tree. I baked. I listened to Christmas music. I worked a dayshift on Christmas and darn it if I didn’t have FUN. And I was still managing the technicians last year, so don’t think this re-emergence of sparkly fun was due to a change in job duties. I made the decision to STOP being a crabby grinch. And it worked.
What’s the moral of this story? Who knows. But don’t let your job consume SO much of you that you stop being YOU. I doubt I will ever be the sparkly holiday elf of the late 90s, I’ve done CPR to the beat of Christmas carols too many times to return to THAT level of innocence. But I can put my jaded cynicism aside, light a pumpkin pie scented candle and turn on the Christmas lights. I can sing along to Nat King Cole. I can probably even work a holiday shift or two. Next year…