Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude is About More Than Turkey

Thanksgiving week is upon us. Time for stuffing our faces with...well...stuffing, turkey, veggies of all sorts and an endless assortment of pies and pastries. Of course we're thankful for the opportunity to gorge ourselves, right? Of course we're thankful for the ability to gather with our families on this holiday. There are so many out there who don't get the same perks and we must not forget them. There are some other things to be thankful for besides the local high school football game, food galore and the anticipation of your Black Friday assault. We forget that there are people out there who serve us and who don't get the luxury of always staying at home on Turkey Day or perusing Black Friday ads for the best deals. Their professions involve situations that don't care if some European folk hit a rock onto the East Coast and supposedly had some corn fritters with the Indigenous peoples. So...let's give them some love.

Midwives - don't forget these women who will be on-call throughout the holiday season in order to bring babies into this world. Babies don't care about turkey or sales. Countless midwives will be paged/called just as they are about to stuff that turkey or sit down at the table. They'll grab their supplies and head to the house, birth center or hospital where they are called to deliver a baby.

Doulas - they will be on call, too. Cellphones will ring with calls from mothers/families needing labor support right now. Rather than hold drumsticks, they will be holding a mother during her birth sway or holding a hand as she bears down.

Obstetricians - sure, a good many of them already induced their patients early in the week or scheduled non-emergent c-sections in order to avoid having their feasts interupted. Yet, babies still come on their own schedule and many OBs, regular doctors and anesthesiologists will be called into work.

Nurses - on the maternity floor, in the ER, at a desk in the CRICU...many nurses are required to work this holiday as illness, birth and death don't take a break. Placing IVs, running EKGs and ridding a drunk homeless man of fleas...

Veterinary Technicians - what? You still think all we do is cuddle puppies and clean cages? We're working this holiday season, too. Just like human medicine, the veterinary medical world doesn't stop for turkey. In fact, it gets worse because of it. Many of us will already be at the hospital that day because IV pumps need monitoring, blood will need transfusing, c-sections will be happening and someone will need to administer treatments to a variety of the non-human folk. Some of will be called in to help with emergencies like the dog who began vomiting blood after eating half a turkey carcass that afternoon. Or for the cat who got a piece of wishbone lodged in his esophagus. Pancreatitis is THE WORD of the Thanksgiving weekend as many of us in the veterinary field will work extra hours pouring over lipase and amylase results, placing feeding tubes, monitoring vomiting and diarrhea and thinking healthy pancreas thoughts. Some of us will be monitoring anesthesia and passing instruments as our veterinarians dig turkey tibias from terriers.

Veterinarians - will awake from that tryptophan slumber as their cellphone goes off with a call about a labrador who may or may not have drank a gallon of gravy with a side of eggnog. They be in the clinic ordering radiographs, bloodwork and reviving someone's precious pet. They'll be out in the field treating a farmer's cow who wandered off and came back with a furiously bleeding wound. They will be in someone's barn inserting a naso-gastric tube in order to reflux the stomach contents of a horse whose intestines decided to twist.

Lactation Consultants - babies need to eat, too. Even on Thanksgiving. Many of us will take calls from frantic mothers who can't get the baby to latch because he is too overwhelmed with the 50 new people who invaded his home that day. They will guide new moms who are worried about a decrease in supply because they were up since 3am fixing that damn turkey and baking those damn pies, not taking the time out for themselves to eat or drink enough water. Troubleshooting latches, supply issues, nursing strikes, SNS systems, letdowns galore and more requires someone 24/7/365.

Kennnel Attendants - well, you did have to drop off Fluffy and Scratch because you are visiting your beloved Mother-in-Law for the next 4 days. Who do you think will be there to walk them 6 times a day, feed them, give them medicine, change the litter box, pet them and love them? They won't be visiting family in a far off place that weekend because they will be taking care of your fur family.

Home Health Aides/Hospice Care Workers/Certified Nurse's Aides - hey. Grandma has the dementia. She doesn't even know it's Thanksgiving. We'll stop by the home in the morning for a quick visit to alleviate our guilt before joining the rest of the family for a feast at Aunt Jane's house. Besides, the home serves up a lovely mashed combo of strained turkey 'n' gravey, watered down mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, a side of "pumpkin-flavored dessert" and a healthy dose of 18 medications. The Aides will take care of giving her a sponge bath in bed, checking for bed sores, putting on a new adult diaper, dressing her, brushing her teeth and hair, change the already soiled diaper and wipe her butt with dignity, change her clothes again, slide her out of bed into her wheelchair and get her to the table for some grub and conversation. It's all good.

Priests/Pastors/Nuns/Rabbis/Priestesses/Religious Folk - you may need an emergency confession session at St. Joey the Carpenter's RCC because you may have intentionally beat your stepbrother with a drumstick after he ate the last stuffing ball. There's a priest for that. The dying don't keep calendars and some families need the comfort of a spiritual leader at the time of death, even on Thanksgiving. Last Rites don't wait until after Father McIrishskinelli has finished his mashed sweet potatoes.

Retail Workers - for some reason Americans have decided that they cannot bear the thought of all the stores being closed for one day. So, many retail stores have decided to open their doors just so you can buy a new labelmaker or Shake Weight. Millions of hardworking Americans will spend their day at their job assisting customers with carry outs, ringing them up at the cash registers and listening to them bitch that the OTHER store offers a 15% discount on all Thanksgiving Day pruchases and that you NEED to accept their expired coupons. Then, these workers will go home, jam some fowl leftovers down their throat and hit the hay early. No, not because they plan to rise early to take advantage of sales. Because their boss said all personnel MUST report to work at 2am in anticipation of greeting loud, rude and sweaty customers who will line up at 2:30 am so they can be first in the store to buy a new Wii just because it's fucking red or get a Dyson vacuum that they don't need but it's 12% off and they have a coupon for a $5.00 giftcard with purchase. And, no, just because they came in at 2am doesn't mean they get to leave by 10am. No. They are "allowed" to work overtime that day...many pulling in 12 to 18 hours during the Black Friday madness with a lunch break that was (illegally, but big boss just DARES you to report it) cut back to 1/2 hour. All to watch people squash each other in line and fight over who gets the last Deported from Arizona Dora the Explorer doll.

Rescue Workers - Cops, firefighters and paramedics are patrolling and on the ready for fights that break out between family members because your father-in-law thought it was funny to tell your sister that she needs to back off the cranberry sauce since her ass is getting wider by the minute. They will be there for Uncle Larry who downed 7 pieces of pumpkin pie before you can say, "green bean casserole," and then mistakes his resulting indigestion for a heart attack. Or to pull over the jackass who thought it was just fine to drive after drinking 14 glasses of Aunt Mary's "special" spiced eggnog. And to put out the fire that engulfs half of the patio furniture after your cousin Eddie learns that perhaps the turkey fryer wasn't the best idea.

Mom. Grandma. Aunt Bee. Uncle Floyd. Cousin Janet. Your friend, Georgia. Your husband. Your wife. Your daughter. Your son-in-law - somebody was at the helm early in the morning thawing out that "motherfucking turkey that they put in the fridge 10 days ago to thaw and they swore it was fucking thawed out yesterday" turkey, cranning the berries, pie-ing the pumkpin, snapping the peas, beaning the casserole, mashing the damn potatoes that over-boiled, candying the yams, baking the fucking cookies that burned because I just went upstairs for 10 seconds to pee and downing most of the cooking wine. After spending the last 7 hours slaving over a stove so you can stuff your mug they either pass out at the table or don't even feel like eating. Give them some love.

The Turkey - he's just chillin', killin' and practicing his gobble when BAM, next thing he knows he's on the other side watching you and your family slice his cooked body with a black and decker electric knife. Give him (or her) respect for that sacrifice. All life is sacred.

Members of our Armed Forces - Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard - all have service men and women, gay and straight or both, of all colors and backgrounds who are missing their families....waiting on a care package, hoping the 6ABC camera man will notice them so they can send a video greeting back home, sitting in a tent with sand blowing in their faces while keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity. And keeping your American ass safe so that you can enjoy your American right to the freedom to eat your turkey 'n' trimmings and go shopping.

So let's not forget. Let's respect. I know I missed a lot of professions, but this was just a sample. Much love.
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