Skip to content

Holidays in the Hospital

A large Christmas tree with white lights and several smaller trees with colored lights are seen in front of a three story white hospital in the snow.

No one wants to be in the hospital, ever. But spending the holidays in the hospital is an extra downer, to say the least. Hospitals feel sterile, cold, and impersonal – everything the holidays shouldn’t be. 

Here’s some tips for making your stay over the holidays feel a little more warm and a touch more comforting.

  1. Make spirits, and the space, bright with battery powered lights. Nothing says discomfort like bad overhead hospital lighting. Grab a battery-powered or electric menorah – there’s even some that are USB powered. (You can browse options here.) Find battery-powered candles to place in your kinara, in order to keep the seven principles of Kwanzaa in the forefront of your mind. Bring battery-powered candles for a tiny Christmas Village: there are some that are remote-controlled, so no one has to get up to turn them off when it’s time for lights out. Hang twinkle lights in the window and around your door frame. Keep the overhead lights off and enjoy the warmth of the new atmosphere you created. 
  2. Keep traditions that are possible. If you watch Miracle on 34th Street with your parents, or recall the Rugrats Hannukah Special (Season 4, Episode 1: available on Amazon Prime or Paramount+!) with your siblings, plan to watch in your room, if possible, or distance watch by clicking “start” at the same time and texting through it.
  3. Establish ahead of time that the dress code is simply “comfy.” Ask any visitors to wear their holiday pajamas when they visit. Layer up with cozy socks (with grips on the bottom, so you’re safe to walk around). If you have an ugly sweater, now’s the time to show it off. If you need to keep your port or other spaces accessible for medical tests, see if you can find one at a thrift store that you don’t mind cutting some holes into.
  4. If faith is an important part of your holiday traditions, talk to a nurse or a hospital chaplain to find out if services in your tradition will be hosted. If not, see if the chaplain would mind connecting you with a faith leader that’s familiar with the hospital community. You can also look into zooming into worship services around the world with a quick google search.
  5. Feel your feelings. This one is the most important. Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel more like George Bailey than Kris Kringle. Give yourself some time with a loved one, a trusted hospital staff member, or simply alone in order to grieve, feel, write, or be angry. You are not expected to “do the holidays well,” especially this year. Give yourself some grace. 

Whoever you are, however you celebrate: may you find a sense of peace this season.