The Night Before Christmas… at a hospital near you

Written in 1980 by Betty Ann Cassano, RN, BSN

One of the sad things about holidays is that hospitals are never able to close down. I've often wished that I could wave a magic wand and make everyone well so they could all spend the holidays at home with their families. And, of course, the nurses and other hospital employees could also spend the day with their own families.

But this is not a perfect world and I've never found a magic wand. So hospital doors never close and the people who provide care to the sick remain at or near the bedside. Even on Christmas Eve.

A nursing student who was a year ahead of me wrote a version of the traditional Night Before Christmas poem when she was in nursing school. Many years later, I decided to see if I could adapt her idea to my own situation. The following is the result.

Twas the night before Christmas
From 6C to 8D
It was peaceful and quiet,
Something hard to conceive.

The night nurse had just checked
Each patient with care
And found them all sleeping
And comfortable there.

The Ivacs were quiet
As they flashed in the night.
The call bells were silent.
Everything seemed all right.

The twelve o'clock meds
Had been given and charted.
A doctor peeked in
And then quickly departed.

When out in the hall
There arose such a clatter
The nurse went at once
To see what was the matter.

As she strode down the hall
To locate the noise,
She met a fat man
With a sack full of toys.

He had a bushy white beard,
(no doubt loaded with staph)
And was covered with soot
And in need of a bath.

He wore a grimy red suit
And his boots were a mess!
How he'd slipped through Security
Was anyone's guess.

He not only looked odd
But appeared to be daft
As he smiled a big smile
And laughed a big laugh.

His jolly "Ho, Ho, Ho's"
Echoed down the long hall
As they bounded and rebounded
Off of each wall.

The night nurse was furious
And glared as she hissed,
"You can't come in here
And disturb things like this!"

He lowered his sack
To the floor with a grunt,
Then chuckled and winked,
Quite pleased with his stunt.

He pulled out his pipe
And lit up with a puff.
But the night nurse was outraged!
She'd had quite enough!

"Can't you read?" she cried out,
"You ignorant clown?
There's oxygen going!
You'll burn the place down!"

He muttered some nonsense
About a sled and some deer,
But the nurse cut him short with
"You're NOT allowed here!!!"

The nurse knew just how
To handle this fellow;
She picked up the phone
And called a Code Yellow.

The EMT's came quickly
And put the guy in restraints
As they listened to the nurse
List her many complaints.

While the nurse dialed the number
Of the psychiatrist on-call,
The strange midnight visitor
Was firmly steered down the hall.

But she heard him exclaim
As he vanished from sight,
"Merry Christmas to all
Of you fine people in white!"

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