self discovery for interpreters

Christmas Miracles?

(Spoiler Alert!  That Interpreter believes in Christmas miracles.)

How do you say, “Christmas miracle” in Spanish?  OK, it’s meant to be a rhetorical question, but if you wanna leave your Spanish-language (or any-language!) version of “Christmas miracle” in the comments, go for it.  And in turn, I’ll give you That Interpreter’s version of “Christmas miracle”.

Albert Einstien said (or wrote?), “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Well, I’m going with the latter, thank you very much.

But how?  How can we see everything as a miracle when there’s so much…crappiness in the world?  And anyway, miracles aren’t even real.  Especially Christmas miracles! 

There are moments when I believe that miracles aren’t real.  Or when I mock them.  Especially at Christmas.  During the holidays when everyone seems to be out shopping, at exactly the store where I want to be, exactly when I want to be there, I consider it a Christmas miracle if I can make it through the checkout line of the grocery without clenching my jaw with a force that requires a prescription-strength dose of anti-inflammatories the next day.  But that’s not really a Christmas miracle.  That’s me throwing Christmas miracles under the bus to mask the anxiety I feel when I go to the grocery for coffee, cheese and wine, and then endure what seems like a lifetime behind everyone else in line.  And if you’re wondering why I can’t just go through the express lane with my coffee, cheese, and wine, then you’re just making assumptions about the quantity of coffee, cheese, and wine I’m buying.  But I digress.

Same thing with the hospital.  Sometimes I feel jaded.  Miracles?  Psshht.  Nobody ever comes to the Emergency Department for an emergency.  Everybody abuses the system.  It’s just a bunch of people. Everybody.  Doing something.  All the time.  Everybody.  Abusing the system.  All the time.  Miracles?  It would be a miracle if someone came to the Emergency Department for an actual emergency!

Friends, that’s no way to live.  Cynical.  Jaded.  Assuming the worst in people.  Sometimes I believe it, and then I forgive myself for it.  For being cynical and jaded and assuming the worst in people.  And then something always happens to change my mind.  Something that reminds me of miracles.

I always liked working the holidays.  There’s a camaraderie among everyone working.  Yeah, it kinda sucks working the holidays, but let’s be in this together and make it cool.  The last time I worked Christmas Eve, years ago, it was quiet.  One family came in that needed a Spanish interpreter (me, yay!) and everything seemed fine.  But I knew something was wrong when I saw the nurses take care of that family in the special way nurses have, the way they care for folks in that way they do, when they know something’s wrong, even before they really know something’s wrong.

After triage and tests, and more tests, and then results, I went to see the family with the doc to deliver the devastating news.  It was a miracle that they’d come in, before it was too late.  The compassion this doc expressed when he spoke to the family was a miracle.  Honesty, truth, spoken with compassion, is a miracle.  The way the family received the news, and thanked the doctor?  Yep, a miracle.  And the way the interpreter held it together through it all, delivering the news, giving voice and feeling to the family’s reaction?  Oh, yeah.  A miracle.

The Christmas Day that followed that overnight Christmas Eve shift, I was due at my dad’s house.  When I walked in to his place early that morning, he was up and greeted me with a hug, and I held on to him and I cried.  For that family, for everyone I ever saw who ever suffered.  For every time I ever saw people hurting other people.  For every time I ever thought that there’s no such thing as miracles.

See, that’s the thing about miracles.  What do you consider to be a miracle?  Nothing or everything?  Is it an all or nothing deal?  Maybe.  I’m going all in.  Is kindness a miracle?  Sure.  A family accepting tough news?  Totally.  Friendship? Friendship! Friendship is a miracle!  Did you wake up today walking and talking?  I’m going with miracle.  What?!  Something horrible happened?  It’s horrible.  It is horrible.  But the way people rally and take care of each other when something horrible happens?  I think it’s a miracle.  An English-only speaking doctor comforting a Spanish-only speaking patient through an interpreter?  May I humbly suggest that, yes, this is a miracle?

It’s been years since I’ve worked the holidays.  This Christmas Eve, God willing, I’ll be with my sweet family.  Being in a safe place with my loved ones?  You got it.  A miracle.  Please accept That Interpreter’s sweetest and warmest wishes that you see your own miracles this Christmas, and always.

So, do you believe in miracles?

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