Like many of you, I have spent the past weeks decorating, baking, wrapping, and preparing my home for the pitter patter of my grandchildrens’ feet. We’re all looking forward to sharing the holiday with our loved ones. But like many of you, I have not always had that opportunity.

I remember Christmases on my parent’s dairy farm that were spent milking and working to produce the food that our family and neighbors relied upon. I reflect upon the many Christmases I spent working as a first responder to keep our community safe and healthy. And this year, I won’t be able to welcome my son, Dylan, home for Christmas, and I have spent many holidays separated from my sons during their time in the U.S. Navy.

Whether they work in law enforcement, military service, healthcare, or retail, hundreds of our neighbors in Northwestern Wisconsin will be spending their Christmas day in service to all of us. They keep our roads clear, keep our grocery shelves stocked, and care for patients. I am grateful to their service and I understand their sacrifice.

Serving on Christmas can feel isolating. We miss the Christmas Eve service or the opening of presents and it separates us from the traditions that the rest of our community enjoys. It also requires us to ask our families to make the same sacrifices.

As an EMT, I responded to car crashes and medical emergencies on holidays rather than gathering with my family and loved ones. While transporting patients is always stressful and difficult, it brought me peace to enter a hospital filled with poinsettias donated by churches, greeting cards from neighbors down the street, and other reminders of the holiday season. The love of our community filled me and my fellow first responders with light that the darkness could not overcome- and that is really the spirit of Christmas.

This Christmas, stop by your local fire station with a plate of cookies, or send a poinsettia to the Intensive Care Unit at your nearest hospital. Spread the spirit of Christmas to all those that aren’t able to celebrate with their families because they’ve put our community first. Your kindness will mean the world.

Last Update: Dec 19, 2019 9:30 am CST

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