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The Early Christmas
Her time was running out. She couldn't wait till Christmas. And then a wonderful thing happened. Christmas came to her.

"Am I going to get to celebrate Christmas this year?" Tracy was in her mid-20s. Her thin, young, face looked tearful as she asked this question. As it was only July and my patient was suffering from a chronic heart condition that I knew was terminal, I didn't want to give her an immediate answer because I wasn't sure what to say.

Suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue I got a brilliant idea.

She had often told me how much she loved this special season and what it meant to her. Her definition was always the same. "It's the ultimate expression of God's love, and it's simply the best, best time of the year."

Now Tracy was watching me patiently waiting for a reply. I could not bring myself to tell her that she might not have enough time left, since I didn't know that was the truth. So what could I tell her?

I stood silent my thoughts jumbled, wondering how to answer. Suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue I got a brilliant idea. Why not have early celebrations for her?

I smiled. "Tracy, I don't see why you can't hold Christmas. But how would you feel about having a special party just for you, perhaps an early one this year?"

Her eyes opened wide, making her delicate, pale features appear much smaller. "Wow! That sounds like a great idea, "she said." When can I have it nurse? When can I have it?"

I smiled at her enthusiasm. "Just as soon as it can all be arranged." I said. "It shouldn't take all that long to set things up."

When I spoke with some of my co-workers, they thought it was a lovely idea too. Tracy's parents were eager also to help. They had been having a lot of difficulty seeing their only child suffering and not able to do very much for her. This would be an opportunity, they both said, to do something practical. They knew that it would make their daughter happy, as well as give them some satisfaction.

Once the word of our plans got around, we had offers of help from all quarters, nurses who wanted to make decorations or goodies, to doctors who wished to donate money.

It took a week to get everything in place. I arranged to have Tracy taken down to the physiotherapy department, on the day we decided to hold the party. Her parents had fixed the decorations and the eats. The staff had bought and wrapped all the gifts.

The thrill on the ward was unmistakable as we scurried around getting her room ready. Some of the other patients wanted to join in the excitement. There were many helpful suggestions given.

As she was wheeled back into her room, she let out a gasp, "Oh! Oh! It's all like Christmas." Tears streamed down Tracy's face. A lump formed in my throat, and I heard a couple of other nurse's cough as if clearing their own.

"Oh! Look, look," Tracy cried out. "I've even got a tree!" She pointed to the small pot that sat on her bedside table. We had adorned the pine-tree with little, colored lights and Tracy's mother had placed a star on the top.

"Oh! And look Mum … Dad … I've got presents too." She clapped her hands.

Those of us in her room were unsure of what we should be doing. Emotions were running high, and our young patient was not the only one shedding a tear. Several of us sniffed as we rummaged in our pockets for Kleenexes.

Still I wanted to say something. " We … we.. Are really pleased Tracy that you like this, and we all wish you a Happy Christmas."

"Like it! I love it! Thank-you, thank-you all so much." Her eyes sparkled, and she beamed at all of us.

"Oh! Mum, Dad! This is so perfect, isn't it?" Her parents nodded

She glowed with delight as she looked around her room. Suddenly, she began to cry again and her mother gently took her in her arms. "It's alright my love," she whispered. "This is all just for you. We know how much Christmas means to you and we wanted to be able to celebrate it with you."

"That's right Kitten," Tracy's Dad murmured.

"You've all been very kind." Her Dad smiled at us.

"We enjoyed doing it," I said, looking at my peers. They nodded in agreement. It was too difficult to speak.

Tracy and her mother had been looking at some of her gifts and had become emotional and teary again. That's when Tracy's dad lovingly placed his arms around them both and we all crept out of her room.

I wish I could tell you that Tracy enjoyed another Yuletide in December, but it was not to be. Nevertheless, for a little while that summer she gave us the marvelous opportunity to share with her in a lovely celebration of that special season—the ultimate expression of Gods' love.

Victoria Stirling is a retired nurse, freelance writer, United Church lay preacher and public speaker. She was born and educated in England, came to Canada in 1966, and lives in London, Ontario. For details of her book, From the Other Side of the Bed" is available from Victoria Stirling's website. She can be reached at

Originally published in Vicky Stirling's book, From the Other Side of the Bed.




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