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Sacred Celebrations at Monroe Carell until Jan. 7, 2024

Dec. 5, 2023, 3:21 PM

by Jessica Pasley

Sacred Celebrations, a vision of the members of the spiritual care team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, is ready for visitors.

Returning after its debut in 2022, the project is a way to celebrate the various winter holidays the entire month of December through Jan. 7, 2024.

“December marks one of the busiest times of the year for celebrations with family and friends, but being in the hospital makes that difficult,” said the Rev. Lisa Hermann, staff chaplain at Monroe Carell. “We want to make sure that all winter holidays are represented and make a space for everyone who wants to participate.

“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 the Rev. 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.”

Winter celebrations for Christmas/Advent Season, Yule/Winter Solstice, Hanukkah 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 they’re smelling each scent, participants are encouraged to pay attention to how each smell makes them 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 Hanukkah 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 them in the hospital or a note for those they are missing. They can 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.

Sacred Celebrations is made possible through the Junior League of Nashville’s Hamilton Fund, designed to “help enlighten the hearts” of children during the holidays.

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