A soft jingle, an occasional metallic tattle, someone arriving in large black boots and a red hat with white rim: ‘Ho, ho, ho, look what I have for you.’

Excitement at Christmas; a visit from Santa Claus and his reindeers? No! Another day on a children’s ward in hospital. Not Santa Claus – but the Nurse, with equipment to give some antibiotics and yet more medicines!


As with most places, Christmas in hospital starts a few weeks before the actual day. The Nursery Nurse getting young patients (and their parents) drawing, cutting, painting and glittering – making decorations to see whether the accolade of ‘Best decorated Ward’ can be achieved.


Putting up and decorating the tree, going to the hospital Chapel for those able to walk, listening to the Choir singing Carols in the middle of the ward and the Salvation Army band playing, to decorating your personal bed-space with tinsel and small lights. These all happen – and more!


Does Father Christmas come to hospital? – Yes – and usually more than once! He brings a real reindeer to the front of the hospital for children to meet and pet and his elves to the ward to give out gifts.

He is tracked on-line on Christmas Eve across the globe to make sure he is on his way and then, by some miracle, leaves a present for each child by the morning of Christmas Day.


Sounds a great time? For the main part it is. However for some, Christmas is not all fun and a long way from home. Space on the ward is limited and a need to keep arears uncluttered and with a view to maintaining good hygiene, need to be counter balanced.


How to bur, wrap and hide presents without their child noticing, and keeping it a surprise is challenging. What to do about Christmas dinner? Of course the hospital kitchens feed those children able to eat but the restaurant is normally closed for the big day.

The nurses often club together to buy luxury cereal, coffee, juice and croissants to put in the room for all to partake.


Gifts of food or drink ae brought or donated by Nurses, Doctors, families and members of the public to share. Some parents even club together to buy food to cook in the Parents’ Accommodation attached to the hospital to try to make the day special.

Of course a great amount of chocolate, sweets and biscuits are given from thankful and grateful children and parents discharged and allowed home or families whose children, previously patients on the ward, giving gifts as a grateful ‘thank you’ for the care given and recovery and continuing health of their child.


For a few children, Christmas is ‘put on hold’ because they are too ill or recovering from surgery to enjoy the day. For some, it is a time of worry and sadness – waiting for donor organs, health worsening and difficult surgery or recovery, and occasionally the death of a child.


So, when you are eating your turkey and singing along to the radio, don’t forget those for whom Christmas is not all excitement and ‘Jingle Bells.’

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