This year was the first, of many, I expect, that I worked Christmas. I worked a 12.5 hour shift on both Christmas eve and Christmas day. And that obviously meant that this Christmas has been very different to any previously. Different. Strange. But special in its own way.
It was of course without early morning present opening, church, carols and an enjoyable afternoon / dinner with family members, as I’ve been used to. As I walked to work at 6.45am, I rang home and received a commentary of the present opening between my parents and sister. In work there was generally a jolly spirit around, with staff members wearing santa hats, tinsel and Rudolf antlers. Each of the beds had been decorated with tinsel, ball-balls and other Christmas decorations. And at the end of each of the beds were presents for each of the children from the hospital. Each of the children got another present half way through the morning when Father Christmas arrived.
The kitchen staff cooked a big Christmas dinner for all of the staff, parents and siblings in the hospital. It was all on a trolley for people to help themselves to, within our department. When I had my break and was enjoying the dinner, there were 3 very high children in the room enjoying their dinner with their family too. The youngest child had received a camera for Christmas and insisted on taking photos of *every* staff member who walked in the room! The staff, including the consultant, enjoyed playing along with this game.
The cutest child had to be the 2 year old boy, whose parents had bought all of his stocking to the hospital, whilst they visited his brother. He spent the entire day sat in the middle of the department, opening one present at a time, playing with it for a while, before his parents would take it away and give him another present.
Celebrating Christmas day with colleagues and practical strangers was obviously odd. But no matter how odd it was for me, it had to be worst for the parents and families. Having a child in hospital is never nice, but on Christmas day… One of the children I was looking after was from a long way away. His family were miles and miles away from where they had planned to be for Christmas. All without much warning or preparation. Christmas in January seemed the next best alternative. But still, its not quite the same.
The santa hats, tinsel and Father Christmas on Christmas day were jolly but essential attempts to keep spirits high for everyone.