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When you’re a nurse in a hospital, holidays off are hard to come by. My Mom’s floor had a rule: you were guaranteed one of the big winter holidays off, and they would rotate which holiday you got each year to ensure fairness. Often, she would work Thanksgiving with my dad leaving our dinner to pick her up from work so she could join in on dinner after 7, work Christmas Eve with a similar layout, then have Christmas day off. She managed to have Christmas day off more often than I think she should have—whether she slipped a few bucks to the scheduling manager or just got lucky is anyone’s guess. Eventually though, the lucky streak ran out and on December 25th Mom and Dad started the usual 6 a.m. trek to the hospital for her 7a to 7p shift.
We’d had plenty of time to prepare for it—the work schedule had been made months in advance. We’d decided how the day would go almost as early: it would be like Christmas hadn’t arrived until Mom came home from work. Brenton and I were in college and high school, respectively. For once, we could sleep in as late as we wanted on Christmas without worrying about rushing to clean and prep dinner! Surely, we could show some restraint and patience so that our Mom could join in on the celebration.
The day finally arrived, and our teenage bodies revolted. We were both wide awake by 8 a.m. We tried to go back to sleep. We failed. Giving up on sleep, we trudged downstairs within minutes of each other. I was thankful Brenton had run into the same problem I had, at least I wouldn’t be alone in my attempt to fill the 12 hours between waking up and Mom’s arrival home. One of the rules we’d set previously was a simple one: pajamas were to be worn all day. When Mom came home, it would be exactly like we had just woken up. We watched what seemed like hours of Christmas movies and TV while trying to avoid the pile of presents that sat just to the left of the screen. We tried walking the dog and succeeded in killing another 45 minutes. 3 hours down, and we hadn’t even made it to lunch yet. We were very quickly running out of ideas.
Next up? Xbox.
Only problem? I’m notoriously bad at video games.
We lasted half an hour before I left Brenton to his devices and tried to read a book instead. The normal boredom that accompanies a day where nothing seems to occupy your time is multiplied tenfold when that day is Christmas and you’re waiting for Santa to come “officially.” The final hours before Dad left to pick Mom up ticked slowly by, but eventually he grabbed his keys and told us he was heading out.
Our normally fancy Christmas dinner was being replaced with a fun assortment of various appetizers and finger foods, brought to us by the freezer section at our local Costco. When we got the call they were on their way home we rushed to the oven to get it preheating and laid out all the food options for dinner. We grabbed trash bags for ripped wrapping paper and scissors to help us break into unwieldy boxes and sat waiting to hear the garage door open.
Exhausted from 12 hours of work, Mom was greeted by 2 (almost) grown children and a cocker spaniel rushing at her with hugs yelling “Mom! SANTA CAME!” She was an absolute trooper. She wasted no time taking her shoes off, getting changed from scrubs into PJs and sinking into the couch, finally ready to start our family Christmas.
The rest of the evening flew by, as all Christmases seem to. All that’s left are the memories of waiting, and the smile on Mom’s face; our Santa, when she finally came home.
Thanks for joining us,
Kendall and all of us at Beth’s Christmas