A tribute to those who work on Christmas Day

Many are working to keep the wheels of our community running smoothly during the celebrations

The Christmas tree is pruned, gifts purchased, and additional ingredients to cook a special holiday meal are stored in the pantry. Judging by the hustle and bustle in the shops the last few days before Christmas, the people of Saint Alberta were keen to recreate the nostalgia we associate with the holidays.

Many have been stressed by the roller coaster of the pandemic and want to reestablish those special bonds with their family and friends. Many more will not have the chance to celebrate today, as they will work to make our community run smoothly.

Nurses, doctors, paramedics, pharmacists, police officers and pilots fill the shifts. Taxi drivers, tow truck drivers, plumbers and electricians are on call. Let’s not forget the helpline workers, hotel cooks, clergy, news anchors and radio disc jockeys. Surprisingly, the list is quite long.

the Gazette spoke to four people who will be working on Christmas Day. We would like to pay tribute to their generous spirit. Here are their stories:

Madeleine Gabasa

Medical device processing technician, Sturgeon Hospital

Medeleine Gabasa is a Certified Medical Device Reprocessing Technician who worked at Sturgeon Hospital for nine years. Its base is the Medical Device Processing Center, a little-known but essential part of operating a hospital safely.

Located in the basement of the hospital, the center is responsible for cleaning, decontamination, sterilization, assembly, sorting and computer monitoring of messy instruments handled in operating theaters, the emergency station and endoscopy.

“My whole family is working on Christmas Day this year and I decided to do it too,” said Gabasa, from the Philippines. She works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“At home, I was a nurse and I love the operating room and being able to handle different instruments. And talking with the nurses is very cool. We don’t have a lot of these instruments at home, ”she explained.

Sponsored by her mother, Gabasa left the Philippines in large part because of the very low wages of the nursing profession there.

“Life can be tough after graduation. This salary is so small [there], and you can’t help your family. Many nurses are found in UK, New Zealand, Canada. Everything is so hard there.

She is currently enrolled in a bridging program at Mount Royal College in Calgary to obtain a Certified Registered Nurse Certificate.

The Christmas festivities this year are a three-generation affair as Gabasa, her mother, brother, sister-in-law and Peyton, her three-year-old nephew, live under one roof.

Twinkling lights were hung, a decorated tree, and a hanging stocking for Peyton. In the Filipino tradition, a big Christmas dinner celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus takes place on December 24 at midnight, often until the wee hours of December 25.

“When we got home, we went to mass on December 25th. Mass was held every hour and you could go anytime. And a long time ago, you might have fireworks in your backyard. We could hear the neighbors and there was a lot of Christmas music everywhere.

Living in north Edmonton, the Gabasa family began cooking up the Christmas feast of spaghetti, fried chicken, ham, rice and creme caramel for dessert on December 23. The Christmas Eve festivities began with a mass, followed by a midnight feast.

When asked if Gabasa had something to say to readers, the soft-spoken technician replied, “Hope you can hang out with your family and friends. And wash your hands.

Alysha richard

Animal attendant, Barker’s Pet Motel

Alysha Richard is a second year animal health student at NAIT. She uses her knowledge and passion for animals to care for them at Barker’s Pet Motel, a service that offers short and long term boarding for dogs, cats and birds.

“I really enjoy helping animals. They can’t talk. They have no voice. I like to defend them as much as I can, ”said Richard, whose own dog Arlo is a five-year-old Shitsu-poodle mix.

She has worked at Barkers for six years and does not consider her job to be work.

“I love dogs. Coming to work isn’t stressful. It’s more of a stress reliever. I’m always happy to be here. I love dogs of all kinds, all sizes.

She volunteered to work the first shift from 7 a.m. to noon on Christmas Day. During this shift, the animals are fed for breakfast and escorted outside for fresh air and fun while the individual enclosures are cleaned.

“Dogs need Christmas as much as we do. I want them to feel good on Christmas. It’s such a happy day. I want to give them some happiness. And it makes me feel good to have a dog in the morning. They are such good pets and devoted to humans. They love their owners so much but accept others. They are calming animals and they are always happy.

This year, the Christmas celebrations for Richard will be small. They include mom, dad and two sisters.

“We are going to eat turkey and because we are Ukrainians, we are going to eat perogies, nalysnyky [crepes], and cornmeal.

The 10 foot family tree sits elegantly under a vaulted ceiling decorated in a red and gold theme.

“We buy gifts for everyone. One year, we wrapped little prizes in Saran Wrap, and put on mittens to open as many as possible in a certain amount of time. It was super fun and it got really competitive.

“I like the holidays because they bring everyone together. It’s a vacation of love. You show your appreciation to everyone who is close to you.

Lieut. Fred hollands

Firefighter, fire station 3, chemin Giroux

For 29 years, Lieutenant. Fred Hollands has worked in the emergency services in various capacities as an ambulance driver, emergency medical technician, paramedic and firefighter. About two-thirds of those Christmases were spent in a fire station.

“It’s part of our rotation. We work on an eight day cycle, ”said Hollands, who was hired by the City of St. Albert in 2004.“ St. Albert had a good reputation as an advanced, integrated service with firefighters and paramedics. . And he had a good reputation for work-life balance and career longevity. ”

He explains that the calls on Christmas Day are fewer, but have more of an impact on first responders.

“The calls are a little slower, but the nature of the calls is worse. They’re random – calls about mental health, anxiety, depression, or even someone feeling suicidal. Or it can be heart attacks, strokes. Maybe they have high blood pressure, or it could be too much. One of the things we see less of is drunk driving. It is an improvement.

The father of two remembers pre-COVID Christmases at the train station families used to pass by.

“Now it’s more relaxing. There is a normal brunch and we could watch a movie, ”he explained, noting that his shift is from 8 am to 6 pm.

Hollands and his wife Jenell Thomas and their children Karleigh, 20, and Brett, 17, planned a leisurely family dinner after his shift, complete with turkey and traditional side dishes.

“My wife makes excellent ginger and apple pie cookies.” After the big meal, it’s an evening of competitive board games.

In the Hollands-Thomas family, preparations for the holiday season begin at the end of November.

“We have Christmas lights in the front and in the back yard. We have a seven foot tree in our living room. It is filled with ornaments. We have lots of ornaments and a collection of nutcrackers, Christmas photos and snowflakes. The whole family decorates the tree and the children take turns putting the angel at the top.

There is a pickle ornament hidden in the tree and whoever finds it opens the first gift.

“We let the children open a present on Christmas Eve. Since children’s sleep patterns have changed, I don’t know if they want to get up early and open the presents. And on Christmas Eve we read It was the night before Christmas. And we always leave a cookie and milk for Santa Claus.

As an individual who works often on Christmas, Hollands appreciates others who work to make life good for everyone.

“It helps to know that people are working together to keep the lights on. ”

As a firefighter, he also delivers a safety-conscious message to the public.

“One is not to put cigarette butts in planters and to stay away from peat planters. Use suitable ashtrays. And the second thing is the phone chargers. Keep them away from pillows and blankets. They can overheat. People can fall asleep and they have become a source of ignition and fire.

Jordan mcgeough

Concessions Clerk, Landmark Cinemas

High school student Paul Kane, Jordan McGeough, 17, loves his job serving the public at Landmark Cinemas.

“You always expect to meet new people and regulars come all the time. And my coworkers make it so much fun you want to come to work, ”said McGeough, a dealership clerk.

It’s a job she’s been on since June 2020, and this year she’s volunteered to do a shift on Christmas Day, starting at noon.

“I can spend Christmas morning with my family and I celebrate the afternoon with my colleagues, my second family,” she said.

In the pre-COVID era, more than 45 immediate and extended family members gathered for a potluck at her home on Christmas Eve.

“We didn’t see a lot of them throughout the year and Christmas was the only time we got together,” said the bubbly young woman.

Last year, following the lockdown restrictions, her family took part in Google Meet and Zoom calls. This year, Christmas Day is a scaled-down gathering of his father’s family.

“It got a bit of trouble into our usual plans, but we’re trying to keep everyone safe. Everyone’s health is so important.

A continuing tradition that McGeough has followed is to bake cookies with her grandmother and deliver them to family members as part of a cookie swap.

“We make a different recipe every year. One year we baked 60 turtle cookies and last year we baked pumpkin spice cookies. ”

But despite the flurry of decorations and tree cutting, shopping and food prep, her favorite holiday event has little to do with material things.

“It’s just about being able to see my family. I like spending time with my cousins, talking to them and hearing their plans.

For McGeough, Christmas Day has a different vibe than any other day of the year.

“The emotions are different. Everyone is happy and cheerful. Hope everyone has a fantastic day, a day that uplifts the Christmas spirit. And that they have someone to share it with. This is Christmas: having people to celebrate it. ”

Maria D. Ervin