We very nearly spent Christmas in the hospital last year, when Thomas developed a port infection the week before. If you think December is a crazy time of year, try adding in a long hospital stay – you quickly realize how much you aren’t getting done while you sit by your kid’s bedside. I had an absolute panic over not getting all my Christmas candy finished, and I ruined my bright red manicure by biting my nails wondering if the gifts I was ordering online would arrive in time. I was supposed to be planning holiday parties at the kids’ school and had to send out a plea for help; I felt like I was failing not only my kid, but a 125 third and fourth graders who were expecting a fun snowman-themed afternoon. Not to mention about me worrying how we’d recreate the food traditions we have for Christmas morning and dinner. I couldn’t stand to think about it.
I sat in the hospital stewing that everything was falling apart. I was nearly in tears the morning of December 23rd after the attending doctor had been through and told me we would be lucky if we got home in time for Christmas. This port infection was a nasty one and wasn’t responding to treatment. The merriment of our Christmas was being attacked by the same bacteria that was attacking my son’s port. I was NOT in the Christmas spirit. I was the Grinch of the hematology-oncology ward.
They say Santa comes down chimneys and wears a red suit. Shortly after the doctor had left me that morning, Santa came in the form of a hospital volunteer who knocked on the door of our room on the 7th floor at Children’s Hospital Colorado and said, “Hi Thomas’s Mom! I’m here to take you to the snowpile.”
“Huh?” I questioned, as she motioned me into the hallway.
“The snowpile is the hospital’s way of making sure parents can shop for gifts. It doesn’t cost you a thing. All you have to do is follow me downstairs and we’ll get you hooked up,” she explained. With absolutely no gifts in hand, nor any wrapped underneath our tree at home, I had nothing to lose.
The volunteer took me into a large meeting room within the hospital that was quite literally a PILE of toys. They were organized by types of toys and ages and gender, and the volunteer helped me sort through and find several items for Thomas and my girls. As we finished up, another volunteer handed me a roll of wrapping paper, scissors and tape. They both wished me a “Merry Christmas” and sent me back to the elevator. As I rode up seven floors, I shook my head in amazement at the change in my thinking. I had expected to spend the day with the attending doctor’s words forefront on my mind, but all I could think of now were the words of another famous doctor – Dr. Seuss: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Christmas means so much more than the gifts under the tree. It means goodwill and cheer, stewardship, and family. Ultimately, we got our Christmas wish last year when late in the day on Christmas Eve, we were released to go home. Although we had presents wrapped under the tree, our family received the ultimate gift of being together in our own home and by our tree on Christmas.
Sonji lives with her husband, Nathan, and three children Nora (12), Thomas, (10), & Natalie (7) in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.