I’ve struggled with what to say about the holiday, not only because holidays are complex. But because for first responders, that complexity is layered with working through the holidays and for some (may I dare say most) working more hours than usual.
For many first responders, the holidays might mean more overtime on top of existing overtime; this can be weary. Weary because this means missing family traditions, memorable moments, home-cooked meals, and waking up at home on Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas) (I only use Christmas as an example because that is the holiday my family celebrates).
Something that has been coming to mind is that my daughter is thirteen- and I have only spent two (calendar) Christmases with her. She was in my belly when I started my career in dispatching, and that is what she grew up knowing, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t want something different. Of course, she wanted me home on the holidays. Of course, I wanted to be there with her.
As I reflect on the sacrifice I made in the love of my profession and the community I served; I notice two things. One is that there are no regrets about this sacrifice. No regrets about the holidays I had to miss. I would do it all over again- in a heartbeat.
The service I was fortunate to give as a 911 Dispatcher was something I will cherish my entire life, something that has helped me grow not only as a professional and as a person but also as a parent and in every other role I hold. So that is one thing that is present, the knowledge of pride in service, of worthy sacrifice.
The second thing that comes to mind is how grateful I am for all the first responders who sacrifice so much to be there when needed as needed even when that means not being somewhere else that matters too.
So this, to me, here, is the biggest complexity, that both things are true: the worthy sacrifice and the longing to be home. Both valid and real. Both beautiful.
To you, especially those who missed being home on holidays in order to serve those who need you- thank you!
Your work matters so much!
Your service is honorable and worthy!
Founder, Dispatch Wellness