Thanksgiving in the ICU: Woven into the Tapestry of Traditions

By Marcy Phipps, BSN, RN, CCRN. Editor’s note: This post, originally published in 2011, remains as timely as ever. The author is now chief flight nurse at Global Jetcare.) 


I’ll be working this Thanksgiving. I’ve worked so many Thanksgivings that the ICU feels woven into the tapestry of my own traditions. I don’t really mind; the cafeteria serves a fitting feast that’s embellished by the homemade treats we bring in, and although we won’t actually be watching it, the Macy’s parade will be on. Somehow, the smells and sounds I associate with the holiday will mix and mingle with the usual bustle of critical care, and it’ll feel like Thanksgiving. It’s actually a nice day to be at the hospital—for the nurses, that is.

For our patients and their families, I know hospital holidays fall far short. We have one patient, in particular, who’s been with us for a while. Her husband’s been a fixture at her side throughout her stay, and I expect to find him stationed there this Thanksgiving. Hospital turkey and television won’t give him the comfort or peace that he seeks, and I don’t know that he’ll be giving thanks. For many weeks I’ve watched him skirt a fine line between gratitude and despair; things could always be worse, but they could certainly be better.

When I stop to count my blessings, I’m overwhelmed. I belong to a profession that I’m passionate about—one that brings me great joy. I work with people I care about and like so much that I look forward to spending a holiday with them. And at the end of the day I’ll be going home, where my family will be waiting for me, and I’ll hug my kids and count my blessings all over again.

Click here to explore other posts by Marcy Phipps on this blog.


Chief flight nurse at Global Jetcare.


  1. Lyman November 25, 2015 at 10:55 am

    As always, proud of my daughter!

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  3. Terri Hammons November 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I have been an RN for so long that working holidays is a non issue. My children grew up with both parents as RN’s so they remained flexible as well. They are all grown now, making traditions of their own. I have always considered myself blessed to be able to do the work I do and feel so satisfied that I have helped another person, by following the Golden Rule. I have heard friends wonder what they can do to help others since they work in the business world. I am so lucky to do what I was called to do, and nursing is a calling.

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