December 16, 2006, 10:24 pm

Christmas With the People in My Neighborhood


Of course I bought this ornament for every nurse in the family.

Except…I forgot to buy one for myself!

Something tells me I’ll get it for Christmas, and probably from one of the people I bought it for!

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I’m one of those people who start looking for Hallmark’s new ornaments in July.

I gotta have the newest ones. I’ve got a million of ’em!

I need more room! So, I packed up all the old ornaments for the kids – a box for each of them. For when they are married.

They wanted to know if I was dying.

I said “Yeah, dying to make room for my new collections!”


All year long, I work with the same people. Day in. Day out. Side by side, we deal with anything and everything the public can dish out. Occasionally we get on each other’s nerves. It passes and our work continues.

December has fallen, another year is history. A year of sharing experiences both personal and professional, humorous and tragic.

An emergency department is best described by the people who work there. The holidays bring out the best in all of us.

Here’s a view of my “neighborhood” during the holidays and an introduction to some of the characters that populate my ER.


There is a beautiful tree in the ER, right by the ambulance entrance. The nurses made sure it was decorated just right. An immediate release of endorphins ensue on sight.

Meet the evening shift RN who stands for hours mixing homemade candy – at least eight different types – and then puts together a sampler for each staff member. I start salivating in anticipation around October! Mrs. See’s has nothing on this nurse!

Stacked in the back of the breakroom you’ll find cases of champagne, specially chosen by the ER doctors as gifts for the department. We’re talking champagne with a capital “C” here, folks. I know. I drank some when I got home from work two days ago. Who says you can’t have champagne at eight am? You can in my neighborhood!


Your sense of smell will lead you to the break-room, laden with baskets generously gifted to the ER by the local doctors. Crackers, salami, cheeses, smoked salmon, coffee, teas, Belgian chocolates, peanut brittle, fruit, nuts, bolts…well, you get the idea.

Every morning a night nurse packs up the pre-made boxed lunches that have reached their due date. She’ll drop them off at a homeless shelter on her way home. Early next year she will embark on her annual mission to a country I can’t even find on a map. There is a package from her under my tree. She made me promise to wait until Christmas. I could open it early, but she’d know. Somehow she would just know.

Amidst the announcements and reminders in our mail boxes you will find tiny morsels and gifts from the staff to each other. Similar to stocking stuffers, they’re box stuffers! Squares of mint chocolate bark, See’s Suckers with a tiny gift tag attached. A goodie a day keeps the doldrums away in my neighborhood. Somehow that reminder to do the medication reconcilliation record seems much nicer with a Hershey’s Kiss attached!


A unit coordinator tried to hide a tiny gift box behind my coffee cup. Luckily I found it immediately, for it contained a gorgeous pair of Christmas-themed earrings. Now I can enjoy them for two weeks before the holiday. That was one gift just begging to be opened early, I just had to do it! And last night I had to wear them!

I’ll introduce you to the nurse who worked a double shift the day after he was sick to cover someone else who was sick. It’s that time of year. We pitch in for each other. He pitches in. Often.

Saturday at six am, one of our orthopedic doctors will drop by a box of warm donuts, fresh from the oven. He does this all year – every weekend. We make sure we have a fresh pot of coffee on for him. Sometimes he’ll stop and have a cup even if they do have Starbucks in the doctors’ lounge!


Oh good! Here’s the co-worker whose enthusiasm for education makes me enthusiastic as I embark on my journey to my BSN. Many factors led to my deciding to pursue my degree but her example is one of the most significant. When I look back on my career, our meeting will have been a turning point.

Let’s say thank you to the RN responsible for giving the nurses’ station its seasonal glow. It doesn’t have to be Christmas; she decorates every month of the year. The candy strewn amongst her decorations always disappears, only to be replaced the next day. Can’t imagine where it goes!

Are you ready for some football?? Well one of our emergency room technicians is, too! Join us in praying that Brady Quinn is a first-round draft pick of the Raiders because if he is, our ER will be become a state in the Raider Nation! One cannot live by ER alone – can you say “season tickets”?


That’s just a sampling of my “neighborhood”.

There’s the doctor who puts life into perspective and keeps me from the brink of burn out. Don’t forget the day shift RN who is truly an angel with the patients and has more energy than the Tasmanian Devil. Then we have unit coordinators who take it from the public, endure the doctors and keep the nurses organzized without missing a beat and always with a smile. Thank goodness we have a nurse with a direct line to all the Mary Kay make up we can ask for – how often can you Christmas shop at work?

All-in-all, it’s a pretty special place.

And if I have to work, I’m happy to be spending Christmas with all these people in my ER neighborhood.


  • laura

    December 16, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    very sweet tribute to your nabe!
    about the ornaments….i love buying them too. i use my kids as excuses. every christmas since they were born they receive another ornament for their box to take when they move out and put up their first christmas tree. they have so many there was no room for my husband’s and mine so we bought another tree for, what else? more ornaments!
    cute ornamen pictured.

  • apgaRN

    December 17, 2006 at 7:09 am

    You make me want to go do something special… what an inspiration! I’d love to hear how your coworkers describe you. 🙂 You should ask them to write something for the blog.

  • universalhealth

    December 17, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Your post is truly “Greetings of the Season!”

    I hope that every ED copies it and owns it as theirs. This is one time that plagiarism does no harm. :^)

    Thanks for bringing to life the lovely people you work with.

  • Nicole

    December 17, 2006 at 10:01 am

    I bought that for my preceptor at the end of clinicals!!!

  • A Bohemian Road Nurse...

    December 17, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Sounds like a great bunch of people!

  • docwrite

    December 17, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    A very touching tribute. If everyone amongst the healthcare providers had the same attitude the year round, there would be much less illness, quicker recovery and better mental health and well-being for everyone around the hospital as well as outside.

  • jen

    December 17, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    that was a very sweet post! sounds like you work with some pretty outstanding people there!!! I absolutely LOVE everyone I work with in my ER.

  • Jon

    December 17, 2006 at 10:36 pm

    Wow you work with some great people. GO RAIDERS!!

  • ladybugkip

    December 18, 2006 at 7:07 am

    oh my!!!
    this is the first post of yours i have read…(the ornament caught my eye – i WANT one!) if you get re-gifted twice, send me one! LOL

    i work in an ED, and your description of the neighborhood was phenomenal. makes me want to make something special for EVERYONE but no money and no time. *pout*

    looking forward to reading more of your tales from the crypt, er….i mean ER! 🙂


  • Mama Mia

    December 19, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    I love the ornament too, and I hope that I get one for a gift – I’ve hinted loudly but…

    Great job describing our home away from home. Merry Christmas Kim.

  • Marilyn, RN

    May 1, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Where did you find this ornament? I collect Nurse ornaments….not just any…. I don’t like the snowmen, kiddie looking stuff, etc. I do like the professional looking ornaments. I have looked on line to find more, but just keep getting “cute” type ornaments.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

Continue reading »

Find Me On...
Twitter     Technorati

Subscribe to Emergiblog

Office of the National Nurse

Zippy Was Here

Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics

  • Perspective
  • Confidentiality
  • Disclosure
  • Reliability
  • Courtesy