Remember the old days? I remember…oh how I remember. My boss, God loves her, would set out a “holiday dream list” in late September. She would list Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day as “dreamed”-for holiday days to take off. “Number the most important to the least, and I will try to give you the time off.” Me? I would always list Christmas Eve as my #1 wished-for day. Not necessarily the day…but the evening. For me and mine, Christmas Eve is the “magic moment” when hope, excitement, and togetherness all happen. As a hospice nurse, being on call always meant you’d be working.
Now, I am a school nurse. Despite the “less-than” that most school nurses see each payday, our fellow holiday-working-peers are quick to point out “how lucky we are” during the breaks we get. Especially the summer months and the Christmas holiday weeks. But, there’s a trade-off…am I right or am I right? That trade-off is our breaks. So, like our paychecks, we need to “spend” our breaks with focus and purpose…even if that purpose is just to focus on the ones you love. I hope this School Nurse Christmas Break Survival Guide and the 6 tips that follow will help you make the most of your winter break.
Find That Kid
Before break starts, find a child that needs someone for that special something. We school nurses know that child (or those children) that will just not receive a gift that is worthy of bragging about during the after-Christmas-break-school-playground-bragging sessions.
“I want the Turbo Man action figure with the arms and legs that move and the boomerang shooter and his rock’n roller jet pack and the realistic voice activator that says five different phrases including, ‘It’s Turbo time!’ Accessories sold separately. Batteries not included.
Johnny’s getting one and so is everybody I know! Whoever doesn’t is gonna be a real loser.” – Jamie (Jingle all the Way)
Find this child and include them on your Christmas list. Yes, they may need new shoes or even a pair of new pants. What they really want is some Christmas magic. And, we school nurses are magicians in so many ways. Give the gift to the parents/guardian and let it come from them or from Santa.
Some of these children are use to doing without and yet selflessly really and truly want to be a “giver” more so than a “getter.” One child I have this year asked for one thing: Something to give his mother for Christmas.
Despite the seeming contradiction to Point #3 below; you don’t have to go overboard. Helping a child in this little way will start the two weeks off perfectly. And, come Christmas morning, you’ll be able to imagine how happy that child is at that moment in time.
Don’t Waste a Day
With 16 days in front of you, don’t waste even one day. It’s easy to start off the break that first morning and just “take it easy.” Hey, there’s nothing wrong with “taking it easy.” But, if you are anything like me, there are still those un-dones from the summer break that are still hovering over our heads like bad news. Make a list ahead of time of “things to get done during break.” Don’t fill it up with too much stuff. You’ll have plenty go-go-go-time due to the demands of our “fun” holiday season. And, like the go-time, you’ll have plenty of time to justify “taking it easy.” After all, who doesn’t like to veg in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas night and just reminisce?
Now, when I talk about “things to get done,” I don’t mean things like trimming the hedges or repainting a bedroom (though this is an AWESOME time to paint a room). What about that book you have been wanting to binge-read? What about that new recipe you’ve been wanting to try? What about that blog you’ve been wanting to start?
Me? I’ve got some faucets to change and some lights to hang. And, if Santa comes through for my son, we’ll have a computer to build. The point is: the last day of break will come, you’ll be getting ready for bed and either feel like, “Dang! I didn’t get nothin’ done!” or “WOW! I sure ROCKED IT this break!”
Don’t Buy Those Hundred-Dollar Hats for Those Nickel Heads
Gift-giving. Why do we give gifts at Christmas? I think it has to do with the three gifts from the unknown number of magi that were given to Jesus’ family after his birth. But, for whatever reason, gift-giving is part of it. We all have that saccharine image of Christmas perfection and every bit of it being financed by credit or “actual money.”
Last year we bought our son a pair of doe rabbits for Christmas. We anticipated the joyous moment Christmas morning. My wife and I had GREAT anticipation for that one happy moment to come. What we didn’t do is think about the many, many, MANY other moments of cage cleaning, wall spraying, and cord chewing. The biggest moment we DID NOT anticipate was when our (then) 10-year-old asked me, “Daddy, what are they doing?” My answer: “Oh son, they are just having a wrestling match.”
My point is: Don’t “wrap” your Christmas break with so many “things” to buy, wrap, and give. Don’t depend on your happiness from your expectations, spending, and stressful travel plans. Enjoy the time off with your family.
Start Your New Year’s Resolutions Early
Who makes and breaks New Year’s resolutions? Who does that? Well, most of us do. Only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. We truly believe we can go from being “bad” to being “good” simply because a date on the calendar has changed. No. Only a few of us will be able to do that. They say it take 66 days to form a lasting habit. So, in fact, you should have started your New Year’s Resolution back on October 26th in anticipation of the many happenstances that will truly challenge your resolve.
I have a new website I am working on: Mondays Kept Me Fat. One of my long-standing, revolving New Year’s resolutions has been to lose weight. But what happens after you lose the weight?
I know for me, losing weight was hard but keeping it off has been even more difficult. One of my goals this year (as I pass into my 49th year) is to do 10,000 push-ups. I started prepping about two weeks ago and have been progressively doing better in both numbers and remembering to get them done. I am getting ready for January 1st!!
The Christmas break is a wonderful time to etch the goal deeply into your mind and start trying your resolution “out for a test drive.” The best time to start is right now. If losing weight is your plan, start exercising (making a habit) right now. But, enjoy your good holiday food until after the holidays (breaking a habit). Start one habit change at a time, either making or breaking. You’ll be more successful when you reach your “official” start date.
My son used to have a Christmas music recital that his school gave every year. The ordeal started early in the afternoon as we all prepared for the formal event, raced the clock, picked up mammaw, and showed up for the show. There in the auditorium were hundreds of families all making nicey-nice when just 10 minutes earlier the children were being threatened by an inch of their lives, “You will smile, sing, and act like you’re having fun or so help me!”
What about the downtown walk in the cold and dark to look at Christmas lights? If you and the family are stoked about going to see the little twinkling lights, then load up the front-wheel drive sleigh and go see them. Enjoy yourself! I kinda like going to see them. But, if your home is full of “Why do we have to go?” And, “This is going to take forever!” Then call it good and stay home…but smile. After all, if you were really wanting to go and everyone else spoiled it for you, it’s not too late to take a few of those gifts you bought for them back to the store (No! I’m teasing! I’m teasing).
If no one is having fun, then drop the high-stress holiday traditions.
Leave the Gift Wrapping and the Assembly to the Professionals
What does it cost to have a gift wrapped? Amazon charges just a few bucks…and…the gift shows up wrapped and ready to go. Money saved vs. time spent…for me…there’s little question as to which I’d prefer to have. After all, I can make more money, but I can’t make more time. And the frustration of putting parts and pieces together…no way Jose’!.
Of course with that being said, my son is anticipating a computer for Christmas…or should I say, all the PARTS OF A COMPUTER. We’ll see how that goes. Whew. Ahhh, but that’s the whole point to that gift: a son-and-daddy computer build.
In contrast, that wasn’t the case with that bunny cage last year…dang bunnies!
Finally, what one thing could you do this Christmas break that will wrap up this calendar year with a spark and a dazzle? Sometimes a single BIG accomplishment can make the whole two weeks go from “I should have done” to “I’m glad I did.”
There’s one thing for sure, without a plan for these next two weeks, you’ll blink your eyes on that last school bell of the day and wake up two weeks later wondering what in the world happened to all that time? Trust me…there’ll be plenty of children at your elementaries, middle schools, and high schools that will shuffle in that first day back with their bottom lip pushed out so far they may trip on it. And when they trip on their feeling-sorry-for-myself bottom lip, they’ll be asking their teacher, “Can I Go See The Nurse?”
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