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Christmas is for Nurses

Christmas is for Nurses

It’s time to “circle the wagons”, fellow nurses. Christmas is not always the “happy holidays” for our kind. Many of us work over the holiday season, and with expectations to engage in the holiday cheer of the season, we may end up more “ba-hum-bug” than most.

What would bring the most happiness to the worn and weary of the nurse-force this Christmas? Or any nurse, whether weary and worn or not? I’m going to venture a guess here…and say that support and soul nurture could be it. What do I mean by this, as well as by the “circle the wagons” comment? They go together --- or they can. Nurses are an interesting breed when it comes to “circling the wagons.” We are a tough breed of “stand-alones” because we often sense we are left without support to take care of our workload alone. We do not easily “circle the wagons.” I’m saying that we need to. It would make a difference, and maybe a big one.

Let’s take you, for example. What would bring soul nurturing to you this Christmas season? Would that possibly involve engagement with a fellow nurse, support from or given to, a fellow nurse? Here’s the deal. We work in teams because that is the nature of our role. But we do not often bond or receive/give emotional support from our nurse teammates. A nursing team more closely resembles a military team with members perceiving attack at any moment. Under these circumstances, there is no place for warm, fuzzy moments of caring for each other. I know this because I am a nurse. It’s not that we don’t actually care about other nurses on our team. It’s because we are in survival mode – a lot.

In a 2021 newsletter, nurse coach Grace Marin wrote on the topic “Nurses Nurture their Young” (Marin, 2021). Her words resonate with my thoughts on how to heal the soul of nurses, some of which are stated above. To my way of thinking, a paradigm shift (Grace Marin’s words) of extending caring to other nurses instead of “snarkyness” is made possible only by conscious choice, a choice made because of hope that one act of caring can make a difference – to the nurse to whom caring is extended – and to the culture of nursing as a whole. Is it possible that such acts of caring could also be congruent with the true meaning of Christmas, that love came down and hope was born because humankind was empty of both? As Marin (2021) points out, she had to overcome the thought that one act of caring could not ever make a difference before taking the risk to break out of the isolationism and “eat their own” norm found in nursing culture. Fortunately for nursing, the risk was taken, and there is a counter influence in nursing toward a different paradigm. In Grace Marin’s own words below:

“To be honest, I almost talked myself out of doing anything about it, paralyzed by fear that the problem was so much greater and insidious than one person could possibly tackle. And then, that still small voice crept into my mind and Mother Teresa's quote flooded my heart.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (2021, para 6).

Getting back to Christmas, what about you? How can you as a nurse bring soul support and nurturing to another nurse this Christmas season? I for one plan to do so. In the process, those of us who do may be surprised at how much our own soul and spirit are nurtured. Christmas can be for nurses. Christmas love and hope poured out on the humankind of nursing because it is so desperately needed, and we are so empty of both. Let’s make it happen.


Marin, G. (2021). Nurses nurture their young. A paradigm shift from nurses eat to nurses nurture their young.

Posted: 12/05/2023
Updated: 12/05/2023 by Dr. Ruth L.M. Burkhart, DNP, MA, RN-BC, LPCC
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