December is one of my favorite months.  I love the chill in the air, the smell of nutmeg and gingerbread, the smiling faces of shoppers, the jingling bells and carols playing everywhere. 

My phone rings these days with physicians, staff members, administrators, and board members asking, “How can we help?  What are the needs?’’ I love the kindness of the Cook Children’s staff and the entire community that supports our work.  December seems to bring out generosity in people.

I love the holidays — and the holy days. I love it that Child Life works extra hard just to schedule all the special events people want to offer our young patients.  I love the crazy sweaters and ridiculous hats — and the mischievous grins that seem to go with them.  

I love hearing holiday carols and seeing dreidels spinning. 

This is a season of hope, and hope is an essential spiritual gift in a children’s hospital.  Not everyone at Cook Children’s celebrates holy days, but everyone hopes for brighter days. 

This need for finding hope did not originate with our generation.  Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with palm branches at this time of the winter solstice to remind themselves and one another that light would soon return to the earth.

Our lives are enriched as we respect and learn from the diverse traditions of our patients, families, and colleagues here.  Earlier this year, during Eid El Ad-ha, our Muslim staff and families celebrated that Allah made a way where there was no way, sparing the life of Abraham’s son.  This celebration had special meaning in a place where so many people are praying that their child’s life will also be restored in joy. During Hanukkah, our Jewish friends and colleagues lit candles for eight nights to remember that when human resources were insufficient for their need, divine resources were more than enough.  At Christmas, Christians will celebrate that when our Creator took human form to show us how much we are loved, that form was a vulnerable child. 

At Cook Children’s, with more than 1 million patient visits every year, we will care for every child as the child of our loving Creator.  We will be the best stewards possible of our resources, trusting that they will be enough.  And we will continue to work for the day when a way can be found to spare the life and healthy future of every child. 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, another season that brings you meaning and comfort, or simply the goodness of life, we wish you hope, joy, love, and peace this season and throughout the new year.

Ann Miller is director of Pastoral Care at Cook Children’s.