The Spirit of the Season
By Matthew L. Malatt, RN
Registered Nurse at St. Elizabeth Healthcare
The holidays mean different things to different people: Time to show your friends and family how much you love them. A chance to unwind. Opportunities to reflect and renew. On the surface, we might have different answers, but the root of the holiday season centers on care and compassion. Compassion is defined as suffering together. Love has been defined as adding value to another even when it is at cost to yourself. Kinda like suffering. These are spiritual principles that if practiced may save someone you know, or a complete stranger’s life. I have never in my life helped another human being in need and felt worse. Many times I've turned a blind eye to or only helped myself and sometimes I couldn’t live with myself afterwards. Ignoring the virus at its highest rate of infection and not protecting others through the measures that may prevent and slow the spread is the opposite of Christmas spirit.
Now, in a time of rapid community spread of COVID-19, there’s one obvious way to show genuine care and compassion to your neighbors: Stay home, if you can. This is the best way to show your love and keep one another safe and healthy this holiday season. We may spread this without our permission. You may be carrying it, cough and unknowingly infect the person walking by, or you have Christmas with the family and Grandma spends 5 weeks on a breathing machine before passing on to the other side.
Healthcare workers are feeling the strain of COVID-19 — and it’s not letting up. As I sit here typing this, I have two temporary snowflake tattoos symbolizing tear drops under my right eye. This is a feeble attempt to brighten my co-worker's day so that I may get out of myself and forget that one of my favorite patients died this morning. I saw pure fear in this man's eyes while I explained to him that he would need to be intubated if he were to survive. I held his hand and ensured him that I would alert his loved ones, and tears swelled in my eyes.
That’s why this season, the true meaning of the holidays is what encourages me to keep going. I will be on the COVID-19 unit this Christmas and New Year. I’ll be celebrating in spirit with my family outside of my house via Google Meet. We’re dropping off gifts to our neighbors and giving to more charities. How will you?