Have a holly jolly Thanhanueidmassukahwali!


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

“What are your hospital’s holiday traditions?” the fine editors at Scrubs asked.

“Well,” I thought to myself, “that sort of depends on whose holiday it is.”

One of the benefits of working where I do is that we make the UN look like a parochial clubhouse. If there’s a holiday I haven’t celebrated in the last 10 years, I’m not sure what it is.

This year, the Jewish employees who couldn’t be at home when the sun went down during Hanukkah had dinners every night in one of the family rooms, complete with menorah. Last Eid al-Fitr, we had a lovely breakfast for everybody, complete with little cookies and dates. Those of us who are Christian are careful not to bring sweets, meat or other proscribed foods to share with our Eastern Orthodox colleagues during Advent. And during Diwali this year, we cleaned the heck out of our station, then sat down to lunch together.

The one constant, you might have picked out, has to do with food.

That’s only one reason I like the way we celebrate. The others include getting to know other traditions, as well as how they vary in different regions of the world; the fun, slightly off-balance feeling you get when you’re celebrating something that’s obviously important, but you don’t know the backstory; and the feeling that, no matter how different we all are, we’re willing to sit down with the other people in our workplace and bring them into the fold.

Sometimes it’s a little weird, true. This year for Thanksgiving, the Indian and Filipino nurses in our unit went full-on Pilgrim, bringing sweet potatoes and turkey and stuffing. The Americans in the bunch brought non-traditional food like spaghetti. It was strange and more than a little amusing when we realized that the immigrants were the ones so bent on getting Thanksgiving “right,” no matter what. We all laughed and chowed down, though. Spaghetti’s good no matter what holiday it is.

I hope your holidays are peaceful, free of craziness and as non-stressful as they can be. I hope your table is loaded with pancit and baklava, ashe reshte and tahdig (the kind with potato), ftayer, pork with tendon and rice, and all manner of goodies (even balut, if that floats your boat, but for God’s sake don’t eat it in front of me). Have a safe and happy holiday, no matter how you celebrate!

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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