Dear Santa,

Last year, I started my letter to you by asking for one more moment with my mother. I asked you for the moment to be like it used to be. Little did I know, when I wrote those words, that I had just days to be with her. 

Even though I ultimately changed my request, you still gave us one last night together in the hospital. She was more present to me than she had been in a long time. Those memories, Santa, I will cherish forever.

But Santa, do you remember me asking this in last year’s letter?

Please bring people together in the communities they reside to work together. To discover what the other is doing in the care and support of individuals and their loved ones. To learn and use their discoveries beyond their walls. To create better ways of caring for our elderly and most vulnerable. To listen in ways that we have not done beforehand. To act in unison. 

I know Santa, that is a huge ask, but I know it just takes small steps to make great strides. Grant me the wish of all of us to see beyond ourselves to a larger body of work.”

Oh Santa, I now realize that I needed to be more specific with my request. A pandemic was not quite what I had in mind when I asked you to help us act in unison, to listen in ways that we have not done beforehand.

Santa, I wanted individuals to learn from one another, to work together. To create better ways of caring for our elderly and most vulnerable. This last year has been tough, Santa. The pandemic hit our most vulnerable elders hard. They have been lost in the chaos of the crisis. We missed asking the questions, “How do we protect? What is needed earlier on?”  

Yet, Santa, I watched as brave individuals, one by one, rose to meet the needs of many. I watched as they became further the family for those who could no longer have visitors.

I watched as those individuals battled forward, draped in personal protection equipment, smiling with their eyes as their lips were hidden behind masks. I watched as those same individuals searched for ways to keep connections strong, building walls to hug through and windows to peer through.

I watched as souls were lost and the toll of the pandemic weighed deeply upon the brave individuals, their heads bowed, silent tears falling to the ground. Santa, the world turned a spotlight upon these individuals and asked, “How could these souls be lost?” We heard shouts of, “What should be done? What could be done?”

I thought again of my Christmas wish to you.

Please bring people together in the communities they reside to work together.

In many cities across the nation, people have come together, sharing knowledge, sharing supplies and resources. The spotlight does not shine upon these souls enough.

These souls work in settings we label long-term care, senior living, hospitals, clinics and centers. Yet to those that are dependent on these labels, they do not see them. They only see the people who work so hard to help them. 

If anything, this year has taught us that healthcare can be bent to the point of breaking. The spotlight has shown the points of micro breaks. Do we want to wrap duct tape around those breaks and continue onward?

It is human nature that when we are allowed to take a breath and reflect, we retreat into what is familiar rather than stay in the pain of change. When we are unwilling to face the pain of change, we long for the past. By longing for what was, the lens we look through becomes clouded and is void of the clarity of what could be. 

So Santa, let me try it again…

Dear Santa,

It is clear to me that you are good at granting Christmas wishes. Let me state again, I really was not asking for a pandemic, and I am good to never receive another one. I will take coal in my stocking instead, even though I think I have been good this year.  I would ask, Santa, that you grant this one wish of mine:

Dear Santa, please work your magic and keep our healthcare providers safe. Let them know that they are the most precious of the precious. Please, Santa, let your magic dance upon them to lift their weariness and ease their days. Santa, they are the true miracle of this season of 2020. Help us, Santa, to look to the future and redefine what healthcare is and should be.

Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and the American Nurses Association, and she currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing and Sigma. She recently was honored by Saint’s Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.