For persons working in the essential services, Christmas is just like any other day. Professionals such as police officers, firefighters, nurses and doctors have had to give up Christmas with their loved ones to ensure the health, security and safety of the nation.
Superintendent Gary McKenzie, head of the Westmoreland police, is among the thousands of essential service workers who may not be home on Christmas Day.
“As police officers, we have to work every night and day, and it is a good thing for the commanding officer to keep his staff motivated. I would want to be at home with family, and my family would want me to be home with them as well. But it is the nature of the job. During this time, the commanding officer would try and visit the stations and bring cake and sorrel, if possible, to try and bring cheer,” McKenzie said.
Noting that policing often requires cops to be away from their families for extended periods, McKenzie said: “Whenever I make it home, it’s a celebration so for me.”
Andrea Dawkins-Powell, a nurse of 22 years, is not always home for Christmas dinner. That reality is a bittersweet one for her, as on the occasions that she misses Christmas dinner at home, which is also her mother’s birthday celebration, she is at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston helping to deliver babies.
“If I don’t work on Christmas Day, I get to spend the time with my family and celebrate my mom’s birthday. But if I work on that day, we celebrate it (mother’s birthday) on Boxing Day,” she said.
Dawkins-Powell said that Christmas Day is normally filled with excitement at the hospital.
GIFTS FOR PATIENTS
“Usually, you have companies coming in to give mothers gifts. We would go on the wards with the companies’ representatives and help to distribute gifts. We take pictures and cheer them (the patients) on for the Christmas because we know that they would prefer to be home, but they are here having babies. The companies would also give the first three or five babies that are born on Christmas Day a special gift,” she said.
Dawkins-Powell, a departmental manager at Victoria Jubilee Hospital, said that she always tries and make the staff feel good on the day because it is a time when people would want to be at home with their families.
Dr Elon Thompson, head of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association, will also be on the job for the festive season.
“Every day doctors across the country are called upon to take care of their patients. Christmas Day, which is generally a time for family, is no different. The nature of the job requires us to provide care to members of the society on a continuous basis. I want to commend the members across the island who continue to deliver top-class and professional service within the health sector,” Thompson said.