Working on Thanksgiving can be great—extra pay and often a quiet day. But it can also make nurses wish they were home with their families.

We decided to ask nurses what they do to celebrate Thanksgiving when they do have to work. They told us what they do with their “work” families.

When Doria Musaga, RN, was working as a nurse, she said that the hospital would provide them with a free meal. But since it was, as she calls it, “the pressed turkey thing,” she adds that “it was dinner all the same and free.” She and her coworkers would often bring in more homemade foods to add to it.

“I have worked on the OB unit at two hospitals since I became a nurse. Usually, the hospital provides turkey for each nursing unit, and each staff member prepares a side dish to enjoy. Patients can choose to order a turkey dinner for their meal from food service. We give thanks for our healthy moms and babies. For the families being dismissed that day, we try to expedite the process so they can enjoy celebrating with extended family.”

—Lois Williams, RN, MN, RDMS

“I don’t work holidays any longer but my staff usually plan a feast with each one bringing some home-cooked part of the meal. The hospital usually provides a holiday meal, but rarely on the actual holiday–usually several days before.”

Lisa Fiorello RN, BSN, CCRN, RN-BC

“We would bring in pot luck snacks for Thanksgiving but we also scheduled shorter shifts to be home part of the day and rotated it year to year.”

—Janine McCowan, RN

“Everybody brings a dish in. We have a unit thanksgiving dinner during the shift.”

—Barbara Benzing Smith, RN

“You celebrate and give thanks with your work family as you would at home. Always be Thankful! Everyone brings a dish!”

—Cheryl Murad, RN

“At some places I worked, we would all bring a dish of food and have an open buffet so everyone to could get something on their break.”

—Theresa Zubrowski Woodson, RN

“I always had my own ‘Kristie’s (Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/etc.)’ with my family. At work, we always did a pot luck–usually it’s not quite as busy, and we could enjoy ourselves.”

—Kristie Davalli, CRNP

“We have pot lucks, and every one brings a dish to share.”

—Kristen Corkran, RN

“When I had to work Thanksgiving, my family would take sympathy on me, I never had to cook nor clean and had dinner waiting for me when I got home.”

—Estelle Schwarz, RN

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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