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Caroline Godin contemplates her experience as the wife of a first responder and how they’ve celebrated Christmas despite difficult schedules.

My husband was a firefighter when I met him. He later became an EMT as well. Down the road, he was a 911 dispatcher out of Boston. After going back to school, he became a nurse and currently works in a busy Emergency Department.

Suffice to say our schedules are, well, lacking regularity. Since I had to work to make ends meet, he switched to solely overnights when our now 14-year-old daughter was born. Our three kids have known nothing else than Daddy working overnights, and it’s our normal.

My family didn’t quite comprehend for a long time that this is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week business. Maybe he’d be around at a family party, but often not. Thanksgiving meant maybe a quick bite to eat, but then off to work one of the big three. The big three are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Most first-responder companies (and hospitals) require you to work two of the three.

“Where’s Jesse?” they always ask. Usually, he’s going into a shift or coming late because he’s sleeping one off. It’s been a hot minute and they’re finally getting it.

In the meantime, we wrestle our schedule at each holiday to figure out who’s got the kids, what events we can make, who we can see, and if I’m single-momming it or not. It’s tiring, but it’s our living.




Mass is sometimes the hardest to figure out. He’s come in uniform or scrubs. Our parish community knows us. He often gets a genuine, “It’s good to see you,” or, “Take care tonight.” It’s so important to me for our kids to see their father put effort into coming to Mass with us. I believe we should be there as a family, especially at Christmas.

This year, we’re going to Christmas Eve Mass. He’ll leave right from there to work. My daughter is old enough now to help put out the presents later. I’ve done that by myself countless times. Sometimes he’s managed to get it off but when he doesn’t, he tries his best to be there in the morning before the little one wakes up.

Sometimes the real magic in Christmas is the blessing of having my husband home with us. He’s my rock, my best friend, and I pray for him daily. Each faucet of first responder life has weighed on him in some way, even being an ER nurse (which I personally still count as first responder work.) He’s amazing. He just keeps doing it.

I work from home now, so my schedule is fluid. It makes things easier. We he’s on a rotation that interrupts events, I can take the helm. Soon enough, we’ll have another driver in the house. I guess things get better, but nothing is better than having all of us together at Christmas.


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It’s not the day or hour of the celebration that matters, but the moments you create with your family. #catholicmom


If your Christmas is thwarted by crazy schedules of someone you love working a 24-hour job, take heart. It’s not the day or hour of the celebration that matters, but the moments you create with your family. That may have to happen on your time, and that’s okay. The most important part of Christmas is love, Christ’s love, and that’s timeless.



Copyright 2022 Caroline Godin
Images: Canva