This will be my last communication before Christmas, so consider it your gift. Sorry it isn’t wrapped a little nicer, but I’m terrible at typing bows. Maybe next year we should just draw names.

Sitting here on a frosty morning just days before Santa’s annual chimney-drop, the pressure is on. What can I possibly say to my thousands (hundreds? dozens? Mom?) of adoring long-term care readers that could possibly be of benefit? It’s especially challenging when the only phrase running through my mind is, “Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad.”

So how about just a simple thank-you?

Long-term care people shine all year round, but particularly so right now. While everyone else is running in and out of adorable specialty shops on revitalized Main streets with festive little gift bags and robotically saying “Happy Holidays!” through their pasted smiles, you’re in a 24/7 business of people-caring, and this time of year is anything but a vacation.

So thanks for being the supercharged superheroes of love and compassion you become every December. You make such a difference for residents and families in what can be a particularly difficult and lonely time — all while you face intense pressure to make the season special for the folks back at home. But somehow you marshal enough energy and holiday spirit to go around — and then some.

In this profession, stories of your limitless caring and compassion abound all year, but they seem to multiply between Thanksgiving and Christmastime. You drive through snowstorms rather than call off, picking up stranded co-workers along the way. You share what would have been melancholy holiday meals with facility residents. You help maintain their treasured holiday rituals, and make them feel like family. You buy thoughtful gifts for those in your care, and bring in your children and pets to share in the joy of their delivery.

One of my favorite stories happened a few years back when an ice storm approached Portland, OR, and threatened to shut down the whole city. Many staff at one post-acute rehab facility brought pajamas and toothbrushes to work, preferring to stay there overnight, or for as long as the storm lasted, rather than risk going home and not being able to get back to their residents. That kind of love and dedication reflects the true meaning of the holidays far better than spiked eggnog or a tinseled tree.

So there they are, seven paragraphs of heartfelt holiday gratefulness — for all you are and everything you do. And even if my words aren’t the perfect holiday gift, maybe they’re better than a fruitcake?

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.