“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.” – Dr. Seuss, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Christmas is a magical, special time for children. For most, it brings with it hope, excitement, and happiness that become cherished childhood memories. Each year, our staff go above and beyond to make Christmas extra special for children and families at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre.
And while, much like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, COVID-19 may have tried to dampen Christmas spirit this year, they did not. Santa’s elves at the Janeway have returned to the Janeway once again this year to plan and prep for the season. Every fall, right after Halloween, staff get busy preparing for Christmas! There’s decorating to do, events to plan, and calls to make Santa and his helpers.
But this isn’t any ordinary year. Coming into the Holiday Season this year, we knew things were going to look different due to the pandemic. But with the Janeway’s Therapeutic Recreation Child Life Department team at the helm, and with support from the Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Department, the Infrastructure Support staff and management, we were able to adapt and make the most of the current circumstances.
Across the province and indeed around most of the world, we are not seeing the usual hustle and bustle of the Holidays. But, rest assured, the spirit of Christmas is definitely still felt here at the Janeway!
“Our number one priority is ensuring patient safety and comfort while creating a magical, merry Christmas for the children and staff. The team looked at every activity of Christmas at the Janeway,” says Crystal Hickey, division manager with the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre. “Staff have stepped up in incredible ways and have been creative yet cautious in order to create a Christmas at the Janeway that the children will be excited about and remember.”
Decking the halls took on a whole new meaning this year. Decorations still line the hallways and patient rooms, and Christmas trees still provide a warm, festive glow – albeit just out of reach of curious, little hands so that we can keep our children, families, and staff safe. To further ensure the safety of everyone, we also purchased new decorations which align with IPAC’s guidelines, this includes a tree with plastic branches and decorations that could be easily wiped down and kept clean.
As we approach Christmas, our team continues to come up with creative ways to celebrate the season. We make ornaments with the children, provide disposable window stickers for patient rooms and include Christmas themes in all our typical recreation therapy interventions.
“The best gift we can give each other this Christmas is health and safety,” says Amy Howard, regional director of Children and Women’s Health Program with Eastern Health. “This may not be the usual Holidays at the Janeway but I’m so proud of the exceptional effort everyone’s put forth to make the most of it.”
Each year, we are so grateful for the many businesses, individuals and families that think of the Janeway for their Holiday giving. Major donors have provided us with great support this year which will help provide Christmas cheer to many inpatient and outpatient families who may be further challenged this year. While there are some extra steps and safety precautions to the donation process this year, we’re so pleased that we can still be part of your Christmas giving. Your generosity helps brighten families’ days and brings the feeling of Christmas to their stay.
As we’ve seen with the cancellation of Christmas parades, breakfasts with Santa and lots of other Holiday events in our communities and homes, we, at the Janeway, have also had to put a temporary hold on some of our annual events. However, everyone is looking forward to starting up again next year, some even promising to make their events bigger and better to make up for this year.
One of our bigger events during the Holiday Season is the annual RCMP Christmas Party.
Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP, Ches Parsons, says, “The celebration of Christmas and the Holiday Season for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador just won’t feel the same this year as we miss the fun of hosting a party with Santa at Headquarters for the children of the Janeway Children’s Rehabilitation Centre. We will also miss visiting the Janeway in partnership with Co-operators Insurance to provide gifts to the little patients. COVID-19 has meant we had to cancel these plans for 2020 but that will make them even more special when we resume them in 2021. We extend our best wishes to all the children and their families for a bright and happy Holiday Season.”
And then there’s the main events with the big guy himself – Santa Claus! Again, this year, Santa made a special appearance at the Janeway with the help of the Royal Canadian Airforce 103 Search and Rescue Squadron. Instead of visiting the hospital in person, Santa flew by with special greetings for the children on December 18 and a sack brimming full of gifts.
And don’t worry! Santa will be back visiting the children on Christmas Eve to deliver a stocking and wish them a Merry Christmas!!
We’ll leave the last and most important word to Santa Claus, himself:
“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas, boys and girls. I wanted to send a quick message to my dear little friends at the Janeway to let them know that I can’t wait to see them on Christmas Eve. I know this has been a tough, different year, but I’m so glad that the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, has deemed me an essential worker and that I can travel freely to NL to provide Christmas cheer to all the boys and girls throughout the province… So, don’t you worry – I’ll see you soon. Stay safe.” ■
This story was written by Ashley Moore, recreation specialist clinical lead, at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, with Tracey Boland, media relations manager at Eastern Health.