You know you're a nurse when ...
You know you’re a nurse when …

So right around Thanksgiving I was watching a trivia game show and the question came up: “What do 23% of Americans have for Thanksgiving?” My immediate thought was, “A burning desire to discover that they were adopted.”

OK, I would venture to guess that most of us would agree that Norman Rockwell must have been tripping when he painted his all-smiles Thanksgiving family gathering dinner portrait!

Let me explain: We have this wonderful family tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and professing what we each are thankful for. How this plays out all depends on who’s at the table.

So it starts great, with my sisters and their husbands stating how thankful they are for each other, all lovey-dovey, just enough to bring a tear to your eye. The guys are wonderfully sentimental. Then, we get to a couple of tipsy relatives who make completely inappropriate remarks (where I find myself thankful there weren’t any small children joining us this time).

Then, we move on to Grandma, who is thankful that she is still here to join us but then ruins it by deciding to give a dissertation on EVERY single physical ailment that is bothering her. And, yes, boys and girls, she went there, sadly reminiscing on the passing (pun intended) of her regular bowel movements. 

Finally, we move on to my husband. I look at him with hopeful anticipation. And … he gives thanks that his car turned over another 100,000 miles and he doesn’t have to trade it in yet. Really? Is that some kind of romantic metaphor? I run four miles, six days a week but I don’t think I hit 100,000 miles yet … No, he was probably really talking about the car.  Oh, well.

Then it hits me. The title of Norman Rockwell’s painting is “Freedom From Want.” And I am humbled once again. I am so very blessed with love, health and fortune. I have a loving family, great friends, a stable job in this unstable economy, and I am blessed economically enough to be able to sponsor children who aren’t.

In my side venture, 5% of gross sales go to feeding, clothing and giving medical care to children living in poverty right here in the United States, something no other corporation in the world does. And I am blessed to call the visionary who created this company, whose mission it is that one day no child in this country will go to bed hungry, my dear friend and part of my “adopted” family. I am thankful for this.

As I look ahead, I realize we are all part of an adopted family that makes a positive difference. Honestly, we all work in a setting that makes a difference in someone’s life every single day.

We all have adopted “mothers,” “fathers,” “grandmothers,” “grandfathers,” with our residents and “brothers” and “sisters” with our fellow long-term care workforce. From CEO to CNA, we change lives. How blessed we are to be able to do that! I am thankful for this.

So I wish that we will be — and, mostly, I believe I am — more thankful for what we have, and for what we are able to contribute.

I also hope that we live our lives in gratitude for all we have and all that we can do. And, I wish for world peace! (I really do!) 

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC — a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet.