What do you see when you walk down the halls of a children’s hospital at Christmas? What do you notice?
Walking down the Halls
There is something special about being surrounded by children during Christmas, especially when you are a child yourself. Kids are smiling and laughing with pure excitement for a very special day that will be coming. The anticipation is almost as incredible as the day itself. Christmas in the children’s hospital offers the novice spectator the joy of being surrounded by children. I know most people don’t think the hospital goes hand in hand with Christmas, but this is where many kids are for the holidays. This is the place where HOPE exists. Christmas for me goes hand in hand with hope. For a moment, take my virtual hand and imagine walking down the halls of the hospital with me during my cancer battle throughout the Christmas season. My hope is I can give you the imagery to describe what the holidays will look like at Children’s Hospital. I want you to see and feel where hope lives.
As I walk out of my pediatric patient room, I notice down the hallway that a tree is lit up with hundreds of lights and shiny ornaments. Over by the nurses’ station, I hear wrapping paper being cut and scotch tape being pulled. The nurses have outdone themselves as they demonstrate how truly creative they can be with Christmas decorations. They have gone out of their way to make our non-traditional Christmas as traditional as possible. You hear the sound that an IV pole makes as it rolls while the pediatric patients make their laps around the halls. My fellow teen warrior friend walks on by. She is determined to keep her school grades up because she was in the running to be valedictorian this year prior to her cancer diagnosis. She has lost all her hair since the last time I saw her. She is looking thinner. Her PJs look like they are draping over her body. I see a dad pushing his little girl in a toddler wagon down the hospital hallway. She is enjoying herself and waving at everyone as she goes by. Her dad is trying to navigate her expedition all the while keeping her nasal tube from getting tangled.
You smell fresh-brewed coffee. I have learned that the medical staff keep coffee going 24/7 for the parents staying with their children. The coffee smells pretty good, which is amazing considering most smells and aromas make my chemo belly feel woozier than is tolerable. I have seen another mom at the coffee station often. Her child is not doing well. She has been up all night. I walk further down the hall to wave at a few friends. I get to chat up a storm with other patients as we enjoy this chance to soak in some holiday socialization. I wave at another patient who is not allowed to leave his hospital room. He is not feeling well, his counts are too low, and his immune system is comprised. That is not a good combination and it is best for him to not take a chance and leave his room. He does wear a bright red Santa hat and his mom filled his room with holiday cheer. As I walk farther down the halls, I turn to see the that the playroom is open and has several kids in there. This is a designated hang out room for pediatric patients. Inside we play games and even spend some time completing holiday crafts. The hospital volunteers help us and even play games with us. I really enjoyed that time and cherished how sweet and generous the volunteers are. There even is a teen hang out room on another floor that Special Spaces and the Nashville Predators donated their time, money, and effort to make it really special. This teen room has a pool table and tons of video games. So cool!
As I continue my journey down the halls, you hear pill bottles rattling. I also hear a little kid crying. I am not sure if it is because of a needle or something else. But, I can see they brought the therapy dog in to visit. The dog is such a cutie and so well behaved. The therapy dogs are so awesome. They lift the spirits of all the kids, the parents, and even the staff. Some of the doctors and nurses are dressed up. Some are adding flare to their regular medical uniforms and outfits. One doctor had a stethoscope with a reindeer on it. The reindeer’s red nose lit up. Throughout the week, if you go downstairs on the second floor, there will be different events taking place. I am going to try and visit each of these if I am feeling well enough to leave my room. If I can’t, then each of these events will be televised on our TV through Seacrest Studios. On one of the days, the Nashville Ballet will perform some dances from the Nutcracker for the pediatric patients to see. On another day, Santa will come to drop by for an early visit. He will pass out special gifts that were donated to the kids in the hospital. Kids go absolutely crazy for this. The local radio station, 107.5 The River, has a two-day River of Hope radiothon going on downstairs. They have many visitors, patients, celebrities, music, and super cool DJs that are there to support and raise money for the hospital. I love that it is called River of HOPE, because hope lives in this children’s hospital. Downstairs there is also a cafeteria. The staff decorated here as well. Everywhere I look, I see, smell, and hear holiday cheer. I feel Christmas. I feel hope.
For me, my unconventional holiday setting, is the place where I had a special season of Christmas. It was completely different than any other holidays. For so many children, this was their new normal. This was my new normal. This Christmas, so many have supported the Children’s Hospital to give us pediatric warriors hope. I want to spotlight all of those who have offered so much of themselves to help the Children’s Hospital and the children that fill the beds. As you walked down the halls with me in my story, take note to the many who have supported my fellow warriors. If you would like to offer hope to these children, let me highlight ways you can help.
Donate – family care items, infant/toddler items, therapeutic items, teen bling, holiday items (new unwrapped toys) – because this is for a hospital, they handle donations a little differently. Their main focus is keeping young patients healthy and safe, so there are certain items they are unable to accept. Please review guidelines
Volunteer – several types of hand-on volunteering for adults, college students, and high school students
Pet Therapy – a special way to show compassion and care for patients, their families and hospital staff with a certified, trained pet therapy animal
Entertainment Opportunities – Music, dance, puppetry, magic and service project activities as well as celebrity visits – read up on guidelines and request procedures
Fundraising – service organizations you can raise needed funds to support the mission of the Children’s Hospital by holding your own community fundraiser or my attending an event such as The Children’s Cup, River of Hope Radiothon, Nashville Christmas Parade, Friends & Fashion, CMN Hospital Telethon, Rascal Flatts’ Celebrity Golf Classic, and Gifts From Friends.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
I invite you to visit my YouTube channel Positively Jessica where you can learn about me enjoying life and my new “vlog the blog” series to see more about my blog creation and behind the scenes of this article. https://youtu.be/jpiriJlEh_Q Enjoy!