Oh, Christmas Tree…

>Decorated trees for Christmas are a German tradition that became popular in this country beginning in the mid-19th century, and now almost everyone has a decorated tree or even two, real or artificial. Some houses have individual trees in almost every room and many people go to great lengths to create lavish and coordinated holiday tree designs. However, to my mind, there’s nothing like looking at a giant real tree lit with thousands of lights and holiday ornaments.

That’s what we have at Children’s. The hospital had a ceremony last week to light the 32-foot-tall blue spruce Christmas tree that stands outside the new tower. In addition to the lights on the tree, there are thousands more white twinkle lights on the trees and shrubbery around the Dallas campus.

Santa Claus even made a special appearance to help light the tree with the assistance of patient Jakayla Tippen, 6. The next day, there was a tree lighting at our Children’s at Legacy campus in Plano for the patients there and Santa Claus was there too. He’s a busy elf.

The event made me grateful that Children’s goes that extra distance to make its patients feel the warmth of the season.

That’s because many of the children who came to see the tree lighting are inpatients, a lot of whom will not get outside this year to see the lights or feel the nippy air. And yet, they seemed engaged as they waited for the big tree to light up, clapping to holiday carols and pop tunes, wearing goofy “snowflake” foam rubber hats and red clown noses.

After the tree lighting, children could get their photos taken with Santa and even that was a sign of normalcy because a lot of kids looked distinctly unhappy about sitting on Santa’s lap. It could have been any mall in America except for the children’s IV poles and pale faces.

There’s a lot one can complain about concerning the commercialism of the holiday season, but the tree lighting at Children’s quashed my skepticism and made me glad it’s Christmas time.

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