Holiday celebrations taking place at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at VanderbiltDec. 8, 2022, 8:47 AM
by Jessica Pasley
December marks one of the busiest times of the year for celebrations with family and friends.
However, being in the hospital makes that difficult.
Members of the spiritual care team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are hoping to help with the creation of Sacred Celebrations, a first-time project that will run during December and wrap up on Jan. 7, 2023.
“We want to make sure that all winter holidays are represented and make a space for everyone who wants to participate,” said the Rev. Lisa Hermann, staff chaplain at Monroe Carell. “There is such an overlap of events during the winter season, we want to acknowledge that this a time when traditionally people would be with family and friends.
“Being in a hospital away from family can be hard. We are creating a space that hopefully helps people feel connected to the traditions that matter to them.”
Sacred Celebrations is located in the chapel on the second floor of Monroe Carell. Portions of the project can also be brought to individual patient rooms when requested.
“We spend the majority of our time with patients, not necessarily in the chapel,” said Fred Brown, staff chaplain. “So, having the ability to interact with families wherever they are is key. Our hope is to help folks access and find meaning while they are here and not feel isolated.
“I am hopeful of the prospect of real connections being made.”
Winter celebrations for Christmas/Advent Season, Yule/Winter Solstice, Hanuk-kah and Kwanzaa will be featured in the chapel that will be open 24/7 to allow patients and staff the opportunity to engage in a self-led exploration that includes the following stations:
- Smelling Station — The winter holidays are full of aromas. During the holidays, some people spend time around a Yuletide fire, sitting around a Christmas tree, cooking and eating a Kwanzaa feast, spinning a dreidel for chocolate, or decorating with seasonal goods like cranberries and greenery. When you’re smelling each scent, you are encouraged to pay attention to how each smell makes you feel.
- Sand Tray and Dreidel — On Hanukkah, Jewish people around the world play the game of dreidel to remind them of the events leading up to the Hanukkah miracle. The letters on the sides of the dreidel are in reference to the sacred oil leftover from the Greeks that was enough for one day but lasted eight. Each letter corresponds to coins associated with the game. Participants are encouraged to draw the letters in the sand, spin the dreidel, and explore the variety of Hanuk-kah materials.
- Connections Board — With the materials provided, participants can make something holiday-themed to pin to the canvas like a note of thanks for the people with you in the hospital or a note for those you are missing, share a special memory, draw a picture or use the polaroid camera to take a photo to post on the board. The possibilities are limitless.
“We are excited about the idea of playing,” said Nathan Fox-Hesler, staff chaplain. “Kids need to play and have fun. They will get to experiment and experience several things with Sacred Celebrations. So many folks think spiritual care is only for Christian folks. It’s for anyone, even those who don’t have a religious connection.
“We want to make sure folks are cared for and have their holidays or traditions acknowledged while in the hospital.”
There is also a Kwanzaa display, a selection of books for a multitude of celebrations and a felt campfire.
For those seeking additional connections with services related to holiday traditions and celebrations, the chapel offers a list of local services that can be accessed via a QR code on a display board.
Sacred Celebrations was made possible through the Junior League of Nashville’s Hamilton Fund, designed to “help enlighten the hearts” of children during the holidays.