The sun is still below the horizon as I come to work on Christmas Eve day. A tree shines in the dark dining room as our patients on this unit get ready for breakfast. In spite of festive decorations there is no disguising the fact that this is a hospital.
A lady clutches a teddy bear given to her by a volunteer earlier in the month and asks me where she is and what she is supposed to do. I take her by the hand and we walk to breakfast.
Later in the morning another lady asks me for a cup of tea. This is a special day so I pour her tea in a nice mug rather than a styrofoam cup. A well worn seasonal sweater envelops her thin arms and I ask her about Christmases past. "Christmas makes me so sad," she says. "My daughter died on Christmas Day." I steer the conversation to a less distressing topic and she tells me about her childhood in England. There are people who care about her and she looks forward to visitors later in the day.
I arrange for the delivery of a new walker for another patient who will be leaving soon for a nursing home. She tries out her new wheels, a gift in part from our provincial health care plan. A child somewhere will get a bicycle or toy car tonight. Is is just as exciting to get a wheeled walker for Christmas?
Last week another lady came to my 4th floor office door with a card and gift. Five years and another employer ago I had treated her husband in the final months of his life. I used to sit in their kitchen and have a cup of King Cole tea, a favourite of Canadians from the East Coast. This lady is now in a wheelchair herself, yet she found out where I was and made the effort to bring me two boxes of tea after all these years. We chatted about her husband and how things have changed in her life. She told me she was going to walk again, and I gave her a hug and wished her a Merry Christmas. A lady who has suffered much gave me the best Christmas memory this year.
After work I went for a walk along a nearby creek and watched the birds puffed up in the cold as they chirped in the bushes. I am grateful for the abundance of life and the joy of sharing with others in need.
I want to wish a special Merry Christmas to those who have suffered loss
and to those who work these holidays to protect and serve those in need.
To friends and family, those far and near, I wish you a blessed Christmas Day.