When it comes to balancing the personal joys of the holiday season with the challenging professional demands that come with it in the public safety industry, our own Greg Kandel says it best:
“Although the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for many, for first responders the season is often a bit more nuanced. The holiday season can be especially difficult in their personal lives when, in addition to the usual challenges of shift work, it often means more missed memories with families. And in their professional lives, it can mean increased emergencies, or incidents which may be more difficult due to their nature."
While the article in which he wrote those words was dedicated to actionable ways to help first responders manage the stress of the holiday season, this article is instead a quiet acknowledgement of what it means to be a first responder during this time of year – which can easily be filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
We thank you for your service, and we leave you with these words of reflection from a few of our own staff members who have lived their lives in that same service:
It’s about family (and how you cook your turkey)
Most public safety professionals will tell you their co-workers basically become family, and my experiences are certainly no exception. One of the bright spots to working over the holidays are my memories of years of trying to celebrate while on duty with my "work family" – to mixed results:
- There was the year day shift fried a turkey in a “portable, indoor fryer” in our locker room. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with the fire department.
- There was the year we got a fresh snow, and all went sledding on the hill down the street after our shift was over. All sorts of visitors came by to drop off treats and show their gratitude. Kids coming in to see mom or dad, and relatives from out of town just wanting to say hi!
- More than one family I know would email Santa to ask him to reschedule Christmas morning to the 26th or 27th when both mom and dad would be home. He’s surprisingly flexible with his time when it comes to moms and dads who have to work.
There are countless other professionals who work on holidays, from the hospitality industry to transportation, to people behind the scenes everywhere keeping us safe and warm. The one common thread is knowing that it’s less about the date, and more about being with the people you care about, whenever and wherever that may be.
P.S. Do NOT, under any circumstances, try to fry a turkey indoors.
Holiday magic: It’s people, not dates
Nobody wants to work over the holidays, but at the same time it is a requirement of our public. It takes a certain person to provide that commitment, but more importantly, it takes friends and family that understand the commitment you have made. For me, the scheduled holiday was just another day. It is the gathering of family and friends that make the day a holiday.
So, while you may not be able to celebrate on the actual holiday, there is always the opportunity to get together at a different time. And do not forget about all the food at work. Some of the best holiday meals that I have had have been while working. From turkey and all the fixings to prime rib dinner. For some reason, those in public safety know how to cook – and cook they do.
Make some time for yourself this holiday season, whether it is on the actual holiday or a day or two later.
Thank you for your service
These are some of the most challenging times we have ever faced. During our tenure, so many things transpired over the courses of each of our own careers. Every high, every low, every person and incident has shaped us in some way. We are thankful for the opportunity to work with some amazing individuals and to continue serving each of you.
Although often overlooked, underappreciated, and under-recognized, we want to take the time to say thank you to everyone in the trenches.
What you give and what you sacrifice is immeasurably vital to our communities. This holiday, if you can't be with the ones you love, then appreciate those serving alongside you. Be kind, be patient, be thankful.
On behalf of us, and the entire SafeCities™ Support Services team: Happy Holidays
and Kathi Bell