Never Alone on Christmas Day
By Valerie Chambers
I do not do "sick" well. I usually take to bed, draw the curtains, turn off the lights, and silence the ringer on the phone. There are, however, times when I want everyone to know; like the time I fell down the stairs and fractured a bone in my foot. It was a good thing that I was carrying a laundry basket because that is where my head landed.
After I gathered my composure, I was relieved to find that no one saw what had happened. Feeling no pain, I went to work. Within two hours my foot was black and blue and throbbing. I work in a hospital, so I went to see the employee nurse. She suggested I get an x-ray.
It was December 21st, and I had volunteered to work on Christmas Day so my co-workers could spend the day at home with their families. It usually never bothered me to work on Christmas Day, and now this one would be even better. Not only would I be a "sweetheart" for working the holiday, but the "poor thing" would also be sporting a cast. I was more than ready to receive all of the admiration and sympathy I would get this holiday.
I was surprised when the Doctor asked me what color cast I wanted. I had thought they only came in white. Having a flare for dramatics and wanting to milk this injury for all that it was going to cost me, I said, "Can you make it look like a candy cane?"
When I left the office in my fashionable cast, I was looking good. All I needed was to top it off with a bright, red, Christmas bow, and I happily positioned it for special effect.
I took the rest of the day off from work and lamented the fact that even though my cast was "too cute," I was incapacitated. I propped my foot up and, as the throbbing subsided, fantasized about what people would say when they saw my Christmas cast. I never dreamed, as I hobbled to work the next day, that it would feel like I was carrying a bowling ball around on my foot.
It took longer to get down the hall to my office, which created a major problem because the job I volunteered to do on Christmas day required delivering patient records to the Emergency Department (in a timely manner I might add).
By the end of the first day I was worn out, and the cast felt too tight on my swollen foot. I did receive a lot of comments like: "Oh how cute," and "What a neat idea!"- but would that be enough to help me make it on Christmas Day?
As a child I had the most incredible Christmases. The joy of opening presents, being with family, starting traditions and making memories, thrilled my child's heart. I wanted to give that same treasure to the children of my co-workers. I knew, however, that despite my cast being cute, I would be tired, in pain and lonely myself. By Christmas Eve I lamented the fact that I had agreed to work the next morning.
When I finally trudged down the hall to the office on Christmas Day, I was relieved to find it peaceful and quiet. I thought about the children who would be opening their presents right then. I could picture their gleaming, wide eyes and hear the paper ripping amidst shrills of delight. I could also imagine the pleasure in their parents' eyes, and I was so glad they didn't have to be alone on Christmas Day.
Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by a call for records from the Emergency Department. I limped down the hall to the elevator, cast in tow, and was glad I had decided to wear the Santa hat. It put me in a more cheerful mood.
The doctors and nurses loved my cast, and I had to confess that it was my idea. However, as the day wore on, the novelty wore off. My foot started to swell again and I had several more calls from the Emergency Department requiring more trips and more walking. In spite of it all, I smiled, and laughed, and joked about my cast that was just "too cute."
After having to deliver so many records, my face became a familiar sight. Late in the day, after delivering a set of records, I noticed an elderly lady motioning to me. Holding out her bony hand, she beckoned me to her side. Her eyes twinkled as they moved from my Santa hat down to my candy cane cast.
I took her hand in mine and held it as I listened to her story. She was on vacation from New York and had gotten ill. She was alone in an unfamiliar place and was afraid and lonely. Seeing me hobble around in my cast, with my hat on, reminded her that it was Christmas, and that made her very happy.
I held her hand and comforted her till I had to leave. As I left the room I was so thankful I had decided to work ... after all, no one should ever be alone on Christmas Day.
Valerie Chambers is a graduate of Baptist Bible Institute, Graceville Florida. As an author of short stories and poetry, she is fulfilling a lifelong desire and call to ministry. Valerie resides in the Daytona Beach, Florida area and works in the medical field. She is a member of Calvary Christian Center, Ormond Beach Florida. If you would like to write to Valerie, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.