It’s a holiday gathering place for patients and families who need a moment of relief. A stage for carollers, young and old. A majestic reminder that Christmas is coming.
For the fifth year, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre’s (JHCC) 20 foot tree has been erected as a centrepiece for holiday cheer in the hospital. “Often you will see patients in wheelchairs sitting near the tree with their families,” says Leslie Gauthier, executive director of clinical support services. “It has become a touch point for patients looking to celebrate the holidays during a difficult time.”
Because of the tree’s height, the engineering department brings in a special lift to mount and decorate the tree. It takes a team of three or four to stack the tree’s tiers and splay its boughs. “When they’re putting it up, people passing by are in awe,” says Ron Lowe, JHCC site manager of facilities management. “When they’re done with the tree, patients and families sometimes ask to help decorate, and we let them hang one of the ornaments.”
“We’re so glad to have it. It brings a lot of joy to the hospital.”
The finished product is enjoyed for the duration of the holiday season.
The tree was purchased when the final phase of JHCC’s redevelopment was completed in 2012. A small amount of money was left in the decorating budget and the capital development team decided to put it towards a Christmas tree. “They felt it was important to have a tree since many of our patients can’t go home over the holidays,” says Gauthier. “We’re so glad to have it. It brings a lot of joy to the hospital.”
Throughout December, choirs volunteer their time and sing in front of the tree. Sometimes you’ll find a few people gathered around it taking a photo, or adding an item to the adjacent toy box that’s collecting donations for CityKidz. More often, you’ll spot someone just gazing up at it, soaking in the holiday spirit.