Just after I turned twenty-one, I was readmitted to the hospital for more intravenous antibiotic treatment of an infection that had been plaguing me for five years. I didn’t really mind, however, because Christmas was a month away. My doctors would have four weeks to clear my infection. Having spent three of the previous four Christmas seasons in the hospital, I felt nothing was as important as just being home with my parents for the holidays.
Unfortunately, the weeks passed by quickly with little improvement in my condition. On Friday, December 19, my doctors announced that I wouldn’t be spending Christmas at home after all. My hope for a Christmas filled with warmth and love seemed to disappear.
At the same time, however, a friend of mine from my hometown of Logan, Utah, was planning an excursion with some youth from her stake to Salt Lake City, where I was hospitalized. Their final destination was to be Temple Square, with its grounds aglow in lights and holiday decorations. Thinking that a detour in their trip might add joy to my Christmas in the hospital, Rae Louise contacted the nurses who cared for me at the medical center.
On the Saturday before Christmas, a large group of young women squeezed into my room in the hospital. Christmas carols rang out and changed my frown to a smile. Little did these youth know that their visit was only the beginning of my most inspiring and memorable Christmas ever.
For their concluding number, the youth sang “I Am a Child of God.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered that I, too, was a child of God, that he loved me and would take care of me. Suddenly, just knowing this fact made me feel better about staying in the hospital at Christmas. I wouldn’t be home in Logan, but I would be loved.
For family home evening the following Monday night, my sister, who was teaching school in Salt Lake City, and her roommates kidnapped me—with my doctor’s permission, of course. For two hours we cruised along the residential streets of the city, enjoying the lights strung from the many rooftops and the nativity scenes on numerous lawns. Though it banged continually against the back window, my IV bottle survived the evening.
Tuesday at noon my lunch tray failed to arrive on schedule. I didn’t think too much about it until fifteen minutes later, when the women from my doctor’s clinic walked in with pizza and garlic bread—the works. After four weeks of hospital food, that pizza tasted good.
Wednesday was Christmas Eve. Though many people had already done much to make my Christmas in the hospital special, I still awoke feeling discouraged. I was going to miss the traditional family Christmas that I love.
At six o’clock that night, however, my family walked in carrying a ham dinner with all the trimmings. They had brought the dinner eighty miles from home, and I enjoyed it as much as I would have in Logan. While I slept later that night, the nurses brought in my stocking and attached it to my IV pole. It was filled with gifts and goodies and, as always, had the traditional orange in the toe. Mom and Dad hadn’t forgotten anything!
On Christmas morning my family arrived early to open packages and spend the entire day at my bedside. It couldn’t have been much fun for them, but I have never heard any complaints about that Christmas. Each of us learned that it is not the glamour and glitter or the bows and packages that are important. If love is shared, Christmas can be celebrated almost anywhere.