The Continuing Chronicles of the FNG(irl): Screw The Holiday Season

Screw the Holiday Season?

Call me Ebenezer if you’d like. But you couldn’t be more wrong. I love Christmas.

It’s not my favorite holiday (I reserve that for the one holiday when I can indulge my passion for horror movies , haunts and costumes) but there’s an aspect of this Season of Giving that I embrace wholeheartedly……the opportunity for reflection and grabbing hold of what’s important. The opportunity to take stock and choose your priorities; the opportunity to be better, to do better, to challenge your self-imposed limitations…at its core, to be the absolute best that you can be.

This also seems to be the season to embrace our inner warm fuzzy; the one time of the year when we can tell those folks who mean the world to us that we love them without reservation, or without fear of being viewed as either a.) politically self-serving b.) a stalker, or c.) too emotional. . I can relate to # 3…..I wear my heart on my sleeve, much to the chagrin and discomfort of my friends and family, but as I like to remind them; I’m always 100% honest, and you NEVER have to guess what’s on my mind. So…for bookkeeping purposes; to my friends and family, and I hope like hell you know who you are……I wish you love, I wish you peace, and I wish you a safe and healthy New Year, straight from my heart. Oh, and don’t forget to wear your seatbelt.

The Holiday Season (and call it what you will; Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Festivus For The Rest Of Us) … my tribe it means Christmas. That means that I’m going to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate all things Eggnog, Twinkle Lights, the Birth of Christ, Mangers, O Holy Night, Midnight Mass and Massive Trays of Sugar Cookies…. Tis okay…..but don’t take me to task for it. Nor will I hold you in a negative light if you wish me Feliz Navidad or Chag Sameach. Pass the latkes.

How does this apply to the Fire Service?

Take this time to review your actions and activities in your department in the past year. Think about how you can bring more to the table, think about how you can learn more from your senior members, think about how you can relate your experiences to the newest members without coming off like a pompous windbag, or worse, a know-it-all.

I’m going to commit a teensy form of ambush perjury, because I’m privy to future article publications, and I simply must give credit to my pal Tiger Schmittendorf for an article that he wrote which is going to run in the January issue of FASNY’s “Volunteer Firefighter” magazine. Tiger threw a gauntlet in that article. Give all or get out. There’s more to that thought process, but I won’t be posting any article spoilers here. Keep an eye on his page here, or better yet, go to his new site, to get his latest musings on all things fire service. It's good stuff.

Make that your mantra. If you’re in? Then be “all in” . Train, Learn, Reach, Strive, Assess, Adjust, Evaluate, Contribute, Mentor. Ask Questions. Don’t make this the only season to take stock. Do it every day. Do it because you care. Do it because it matters. Do it because you make a difference. Do it because you can save a life. Pay it forward. Train your replacement. Study how to do your job smarter, not harder. Think about safety every day. Learn from your mistakes and share those lessons. Regardless of your status within your department, hold yourself accountable to a higher set of standards.

And while we're on topic of the Season of Giving, take a piece of advice from Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich; find a way to give back this season to those folks who are less fortunate. Look in your own backyard and help out. If you can't afford the cash outlay, give your time and talent. Be a hero; in the best sense of that word.

For my friends who have rocked my world, made me think, challenged me to be better, engaged me in spirited debate, defined the meaning of brotherhood regardless of your gender, taught me a thing or ten, and without whose presence this place would just be …..a place…….I love you all.
Here’s my crush list: Ted, Kim, Tigger, Tiger, Crotty, Jim-Bob Brunelle, Dave B. (and Brianna and Colleen), Kali, , McK, Oe-Jay Stoltz, , Mikey, Art/Chief Reason, Seargeant, Kitty, Kevin, Mick, Dan Muh-sock-inya, Mike from Montana, The Badass Boys from Kingsbury Volunteer Hose, CJ, Bolster, Big Al Dente (snark), The Fogies, Web Chief, Spanner,Philly Bob Allard, Spence, Moose, My FASNY brethren, Andy, Jeff Betz, and Bruce Mack. You people are simply the best and the brightest.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and I lift my metaphorical glass to a brand new year of opportunities, challenges, laughter, debate, training, and forging new paths. Thank you for your smart-assed observations and for having my back at every step. This IS the coolest damned job in the world.

Stay safe, and wear your seatbelt.


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Comment by Mike on December 25, 2008 at 5:39am
Right back at ya gorgeous!!!
Comment by Aussie_Wildfire on December 24, 2008 at 6:14am
Merry Xmas everyone
Comment by Joe Stoltz on December 23, 2008 at 8:23pm
..and Ted, we know that YOU know them all. I'm just sayin'...
Comment by Mary Ellen Shea on December 23, 2008 at 10:59am
Wouldn't that make me a MESS ? Hey......waitaminnit......

Ted, I've told you about playing with the squirrels; I don't have that kind of bail money for you.

Strtcopr (now there's a fun name to type when you've all jacked up on coffee)---They have Christmas, but it's left coast style---sitting in circle with crystals and raisins....chanting "fruitcaaaaakee......fruuuuuiiitcake"
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on December 23, 2008 at 8:42am
Hey; Snarky Woman.
Shouldn't it be Mes, instead of Mel?:)
What; you can't be a proud Mary?
I'm just sayin'...
Comment by Mary Ellen Shea on December 23, 2008 at 2:33am
thanks Mike and always, I appreciate the feedback.

Jeff--we haven't chatted in far too long. I miss you bub!!

And Mike? Either call me Mel or call me Mary Ellen.......I HATE "Mary" ....I'm just saying....
Re: your comments, I've made some amazing friends on here; some of whom I never would have had the opportunity to meet had it not been for the Nation. For all of the silliness and fluff on here, there are some really insightful folks who are passionate about the fire service. I feel lucky to know them. They are a gift in my life.
Thanks from the right coast. :)
Comment by Mike Schlags (Captain Busy) Retd on December 23, 2008 at 12:53am

As always Mary, your writing is a fun and interesting post. And your A list folks are all incredible people who are leading by example through their wisdom and words. If it was my list, the list would include everyone you mentioned and of course yourself. Keep sharing, it is very much apprciated out here on the left coast.
TCSS, Mike from Santa Barbara
Comment by Jeff Betz on December 21, 2008 at 8:17pm
Sorry, kind of tardy weighing in on this one; However, a very fine piece of work slay me.
I find it even more appropriate that you have posted such noble thoughts on my brother's birthday, and I must tell you, he strives to meet these goals as well. I just found it a pleasant coincidence, and I thank you. Needless to say, I will share this with him, thanks Mel.
Comment by Chief 29 on December 21, 2008 at 3:52pm
How true. Very well put.
Go All Out Or Go Home
Merry Christmas to all And best of wishes in "09"
Comment by Mary Ellen Shea on December 19, 2008 at 10:21pm
Thanks Miz....uh.....Kali.

In terms of the shout-out, I'm only saying what I feel.
I've been blessed with amazing friends.

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